Stripped-back chic at Givenchy couture
today Jan 23, 2019
It’s a season of exacting precision in Paris couture, nowhere more so than at Givenchy, where the house’s couturier Clare Waight Keller served up a memorable accumulation of surgical, yet never uptight, chic.
Waight Keller entitled this collection "Bleached Canvas", and presented it inside the City of Paris Museum of Modern Art, turning the 1930s building into the purest of white spaces, where even the floors were covered in white latex.
Latex that was also wrapped around torsos, and covered arms and legs. Latex, which Waight Keller called "my couture fabric. A second skin feeling that brings a super modernity."
Like the opening look, black latex leggings – prepared by Atsuko Kudo for Givenchy – paired with an immaculately cut black blazer topped on one side with a white lapel, on the other by a Nehru high collar.
Her program notes mentioned engineered volumes, and the British couturier delivered with super-fine structured cocktails, cut short and with chopped-out backs and sides, and made of the finest white guipure lace. The same material used in a perfect coatdress, again worn with black latex leggings and a tank.
Devoid of prints but bursting with acid yellows, primary reds and intense purples all used to great effect. She even reinvented the bow, an old couture trick, by blowing them up to gigantic propositions and pairing them with matching backpacks. Yes, backpacks in couture. Improbable but somehow they worked.
"I wanted to start with nothing and then put in incredible color and incredible techniques," insisted Waight-Keller in the all-white backstage.
Since her previous couture show had been an homage to founder Hubert de Givenchy, stripping back to nothing made sense.
"No theatrics, no staging, just pure clothes, that’s what it is about," concluded the British couturier, who took her ovation to intense and lengthy applause.
Throughout, the atmosphere heightened by the soundtrack by Montserrat Caballé hitting the highest of notes singing "Vissi d'arte" from Puccini’s Tosca inside the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.
Backstage, as is their wont, a pack of over a dozen critics from the British Commonwealth engulfed Waight-Keller in praise. However, this evident display of nationalism could not detract from the fact that this was a really tremendous fashion statement. Which fulfilled the first true rule of haute couture: it advanced the fashion vernacular with beauty and flamboyance.
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