Vogue- The British designer introduced her signature boy-meets-girl formula, revived the couture business and pulled off one of the most famous wedding dress commissions of all time – for Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex – during her three-year tenure.
Clare Waight Keller has confirmed she is leaving Givenchy after three “truly wonderful” years as its artistic director. The British designer made history as the first woman to take the helm of the heritage French house, founded by Hubert de Givenchy in 1952. She brought it back to the haute couture runway, and also won perhaps the most coveted – and highly classified – fashion commission of the decade when she was chosen by Meghan Markle to design her wedding gown in 2018, for her wedding to Prince Harry.
The news comes a little over a month after what we now know was Waight Kellers final Givenchy collection, shown at Paris Fashion Week autumn/winter 2020. “Focusing on a world based on haute couture has been one of the highlights of my professional journey,” Waight Keller said in a statement she posted on Instagram. “I have shared so many incredible moments with the brilliant Givenchy ateliers and design teams: Your exceptional talent and dedication will forever remain in my memories.
“My heartfelt thanks go out to each of the unsung heroes and heroines behind the scenes, for their contribution from product to communications and retail, and every global team member, partner and supplier in between. Without all of you, I could not have brought my vision for Givenchy to life in such a beautiful way.”
Waight Keller, who succeeded Riccardo Tisci as artistic director, is understood to have been at the end of her initial three-year contract with Givenchy. The brand has said that it will announce a new “creative organisation” at a later date. It is not yet clear what the Birmingham-born designer, who spent six years at Chloé, will do next.
During her three years at the house Waight Keller forged a close relationship with the Duchess of Sussex, who, after walking down the aisle in a minimalist, double-bonded silk cady couture Givenchy gown, went on to choose Givenchy for several of her most significant royal engagements. Waight Keller also unveiled some unexpected new ambassadors during her tenure, including the pop superstar Ariana Grande, and her fellow designer Marc Jacobs, who appeared alongside the legendary actor Charlotte Rampling in a campaign.
Waight Keller, who signed off her lengthy Instagram post by urging her 432,000 followers to “stay safe”, said: “Love and creativity remain central to what I do, and who I am, as does a heartfelt belief in kindness, and the courage to be true to your art.” She added that she is “looking forward to embarking on the next episode”. The industry will have to wait and see what that might be.