Monday 2nd July

| BY Claudia Croft

Givenchy: Couture AW18

History is nothing to be ashamed of. That was the message of Givenchy artistic director Clare Waight Keller who staged her couture show in the garden of the French National Archive – a place where the past resides. She named the collection Caraman, after the Hotel de Caraman, home to the Givenchy couture atelier since the beginning. From Audrey Hepburn singing Moon River on the sound track, to the many archival references, this show embraced the legacy of Hubert de Givenchy. “He believed in elegance. He believed in chic,” said the designer, fresh from creating a pared down royal wedding dress for Meghan Markle. This couture show, the first since Mr Givenchy’s death in March, “felt like the right moment,” she said to pay homage. Recalling a conversation with him, she revealed, “He said to be strong and to have something that felt pure.” She looked to his clean, architectural designs of the 1960s and 1970’s for inspiration for her elongated silhouettes. Couture is a dream factory and this show was pitched at life’s Cinderella (or My Fair Lady) moments – there was no daywear. The Givenchy atelier is renowned for its workmanship which was on full display. Lean, molten metal column dresses were worn with curvilinear capes that arched across the body. One long cape was entirely encrusted with glimmering blue and green stones, inspired by crystal caves and the beauty within the earth’s core. Another white cockerel feather cape was sprinkled with thousands of crystals which glinted under the setting sun whilst a gown of molten metallic sequins burst into plumes at the hem. Her men’s couture was also encrusted with beads. Waight Keller said she aims for a very specific reaction with haute couture. “It’s the moment when a woman comes in and you are taken aback by the pure elegance and beauty and the refinement. That feels incredibly modern and fresh. “ Mr Givenchy mastered it, she said “and I wanted to resurrect that.” These were grand designs, built for big occasions.

Photographs by Jason Lloyd-Evans