Clare Waight Keller has been announced as Givenchy's next artistic director in an announcement that came as a surprise as many. Waight Keller recently stepped down from Chloé after a six-year stint, will replace Riccardo Tisci, who left the French house and is rumored to join Versace.
Waight Keller will be Givenchy's sixth head designer in the house's history and will follow in the footsteps of fashion legends like Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, who also once held the position. Waight Keller will also be the first woman to head the storied label. The move comes in the wake of the appointment of Maria Grazia Chiuri as the first woman to lead Dior, the other couture house of the two label's shared parent company LVMH.
“Hubert de Givenchy's confident style has always been an inspiration and I am very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this legendary house’s history,” said Waight Keller in a statement. "I look forward to working with the teams and writing a new chapter in this beautiful story.”
The news was first announced on the brand's Instagram.
Waight Keller's appointment comes as a bit of surprise. The narrative that formed around her departure from Chloé was that the English-born designer had grown tired of commuting between her native London (where she lives with a husband and three children) and Chloé's Parisian headquarters. Many expected her to pop-up next at a British brand, but apparently when couture comes calling you don't say no Givenchy, like Chloé, is based in Paris.
Waight Keller's appointment at Givenchy also cements the reputation of her former home, Chloé, as an unparalleled design star maker. The brand also launched the careers of Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo and Karl Lagerfeld.
Waight Keller's contributions to Chloé included a certain laid-back yet feminine "cool girl" style and a series of must-have "It" bags and accessories. That signature style stands in stark contrast to Tisci's gothic and streetwear influenced signatures. Though, Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH, certainly isn't afraid of a directional shift.
"I believe her widespread expertise and vision will allow Givenchy to enter the next phase of its unique path," he said in his own statement. "I am very much looking forward to her contribution to the Maison’s continued success."
Waight Keller, a graduate of the Royal College of Art, has taken a winding road to the top of the couture house that started first in New York.
“I joined Calvin Klein in the ’90s, just after he signed Kate Moss and Marky Mark to do those ad campaigns," she told in 2015. "Then I went to Ralph Lauren to start up the Purple men’s label. New York in the 1990s was so raw, and I lived in the dodgy bits, like Hell’s Kitchen.” in 2015. "Then I went to Ralph Lauren to start up the Purple men’s label. New York in the 1990s was so raw, and I lived in the dodgy bits, like Hell’s Kitchen.”
She was then poached by Tom Ford to become a senior designer at Gucci in 2000. From there she took the head job at Pringle of Scotland, a heritage label with a speciality in knitwear label. Her work there led to then led to the Chloé gig.
Notably missing from that resume is experience with Couture, but that's not particularly unusual in these days.
Natacha Ramsay-Levi, formerly Nicolas Ghesquière's right-hand woman at Louis Vuitton and, before that, Balenciaga, had previously been announced to succeed Waight Keller at Chloé.
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