Claire Waight Keller To Leave Givenchy

Famous for designing Meghan Markle's royal wedding dress, she was the first ever woman artistic director of the storied house.

Claire Waight Keller

by Kenya Hunt |
Updated on

Against a backdrop of a global pandemic and spiralling economy, Givenchy announced Clare Waight Keller is leaving the LVMH-owned label today. In her three years as artistic director of the storied Parisian house founded in 1952, Waight Keller established a confident and boldly feminine vision of the brand’s codes, famously designing Meghan Markle’s bridal dress for her wedding to Prince Harry and becoming the actress’s regular go-to as she established her personal style in her new role with the royal family.

Waight Keller’s cool take on glamour, often juxtaposed with masculine elements, also earned her a powerful celebrity following on the red carpet, including Rihanna, Charlize Theron and Ariana Grande. You could easily spot a Givenchy moment on the awards circuit with its trademark volume, space-taking shapes and drama. And she was a hit with critics too, surprising editors with her ambitious couture collections after a career dominated by accessible, commercial hits. But the appeal never quite translated to the sales floor, where her shoes and handbags (the bread and butter of most fashion houses) reportedly failed to match the popularity of many of the brand’s competitors.

The announcement follows months of rumours about her impending departure. ‘As the first woman to be the Artistic Director of the legendary Maison, I feel honoured to have been given the opportunity to cherish its legacy and bring it new life,’ she said in a statement. While Sidney Toledano, Chairman and CEO of LVMH Fashion Group, added: ‘Under her creative leadership, and in great collaboration with its ateliers and teams, the Maison reconnected with the founding values of Hubert de Givenchy and his innate sense of elegance.’

Three years, the length of the average contract for a creative director, has increasingly become the new normal when it comes to a designer’s lifespan at a house. Raf Simons, for example, spent three years at Dior before going on to Calvin Klein where he eventually departed following 23 months. Elsewhere, Alexander Wang lasted at Balenciaga for three years while Hedi Slimane led Saint Laurent for four before heading to Celine. And while a creative refresh at a house can quickly boost sales (see Daniel Lee’s lightning-fast success at Bottega Veneta), it often takes time for a designer’s direction to catch on. When Waight Keller left Chloé after six years, she had moved the brand towards ‘good sales growth’ according to a statement provided at the time by the label’s owner Richemont.

Givenchy will announce its ‘new creative organisation’ at a later date. But with the Covid-19 pandemic having ground much of the fashion world to a halt, the wait for a view at how that might look may be longer than planned.

READ MORE: Clare Waight-Keller, Meghan Markle's Favourite Designer, Says They Have 'An Unbreakable Bond'

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