collaborations & exclusivesFriday, January 26, 2018

Need to know: Clare Waight Keller and her Menswear debut

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The Givenchy Creative Director has long been a success in womenswear, but can she do the same for men? 

 

WORDS BY RYAN THOMPSON

During his tenure as Givenchy Creative Director, Riccardo Tisci transformed the storied Parisian fashion house with his dark vision, one that incorporated the delicate intricacies of couture with the hardened relevance of streetwear. Tough act to follow then. Enter Clare Waight Keller, who succeeded the Italian in the post last spring, and who made her menswear debut with Givenchy’s SS18 collection. The designer - who had been comfortably steering womenswear label Chloé along a course of carefully considered bohemia, faced a challenge. How would she interpret the Givenchy heritage and translate it into menswear at a time when contemporary streetwear is the biggest growth driver in the industry?

 

To borrow from Justin Timberlake, she’s brought sexy back.

The pieces are a triumph of refinement and class, one of those slinky noirish collections that make you want to drink Old Fashioneds in Parisian cocktail bars until the light comes up. Seduction runs right the way through it, from satin-panelled tuxedo jackets and shirts embellished with gold lips to an incredible leather car jacket with one contrast red sleeve that hints at Keller’s own rock’n’roll aesthetic. Black leather bombers and burgundy blazers make an edgy foil to more feminine mint crepe silk shirts, while the shoes are unapologetically Cuban in heel. And if you’re more a jeans and tee kind of guy, denim comes crumpled and overwashed, as if reminding us that seductive doesn’t have to mean immaculate.

 

But this isn’t the hedonistic sex appeal of Cavalli or the decadence of Balmain. This is the sex appeal of a man who can walk into any room of people and make every eye turn his way. And who doesn’t want that?

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