Clare Waight Keller took to the street for her Givenchy resort collection, channeling everyone from city slickers on their morning commute to fashion week peacocks strutting the sidewalk like their own personal runway.
As creative director of the Paris-based brand, the British designer shuttles between London and the French capital — hence the mix between streetwise looks like shredded denim jackets or a Day-Glo peach bomber jacket, and symbols of élégance à la française.
“I have either really beautiful clothes to wear for evening events and going to specific parties, and then lots of the time I’m dressing kind of chic casual. Gone is this sort of middle ground of office wear. I think it’s really morphed into two camps,” she said.
“That’s being reflected in the way sales are driven and the way the customers respond to the collection,” Waight Keller added. “The really elevated part of the collection can actually be really beautiful and gorgeous and somewhat limitless, and then the part that is everyday is actually very practical and just immediately desirable.”
Nodding to the bourgeois trend, she scattered rows of gold buttons on everything from a roomy camel sweater to a military-inspired coat with a bright red sash. Round buttons engraved with the house’s 4G emblem ran in neat diagonal rows from the waist of a sleeveless black crepe shift dress.
Meanwhile, the mismatched gold buttons gleaming from a crisp black blazer, including one in the shape of French artist Georges Braque’s famous bird drawings, looked like they could have been plucked straight from one of founder Hubert de Givenchy’s couture designs.
“That was me dipping back into that opulent era — the late Seventies, early Eighties,” Waight Keller explained. Her evening dresses with sculptural twisted ruffles — including a black sleeveless cocktail dress attached to a white puffball skirt — held plenty of current appeal.
She also borrowed from her own spring couture collection, infusing the lineup with shots of saturated color lifted from latex creations like the red dress Rachel Weisz wore to the Oscars – for example on a stretchy pink viscose knit evening dress with flaming red lace insets.
“It’s kind of fascinating to see how people, through street style and everything else, are becoming much more flamboyant, hence the intensity of color,” she noted.
Shearling maxi coats came in variations including bubblegum pink or a fierce oversize animal print. Waight Keller revealed she has decided to stop using the faux fur that had become a mainstay of recent collections, citing concerns about the impact of the synthetic material on the environment.
“I know it’s a good alternative to the real thing, but I don’t know if environmentally it’s the best solution yet. And maybe they will find one, but I’d rather wait until there is something that feels more eco-friendly,” she explained. “Shearling is a byproduct of the food industry, so it is a waste product if it’s not used.”
For those with a more conservative office dress code, there was a beige trenchcoat zhushed up with a thick black grosgrain ribbon running down the back, or a Sixties-style knee-length orange coat dress that might appeal to French First Lady Brigitte Macron — minus the ultra-slouchy coral leather and suede high-heel boots.
The balancing act carried over to the men’s side, which featured dressed-down tailoring — including a new double-breasted jacket with a single lapel — alongside motocross-inspired sportswear and upscale eveningwear, such as a black tuxedo jacket subtly embroidered with scribbled blue lines.
“We have now a men’s client base for couture, which is quite extraordinary, going from zero,” Waight Keller said. “That’s been actually really fueling the development of the pre-collection business, which has been great.”
Another area of business the brand is revving up is handbags. Among the new offerings this season was the Bond tote, with snap buttons that can be popped open to fold it flat, and smaller crocodile-embossed leather bags embellished with chunky chains.
“I find that quite often I’m traveling with quite a giant tote, but then I want a small kind of really gorgeous bag for running out later in the afternoon or for going to a lunch, so I’m often carrying multiple bags,” Waight Keller said. Spoken like a true woman on the go.