Wednesday 23rd January

| BY Claudia Croft

Givenchy: Couture SS19

Modern couture. It’s a contradiction in terms and yet if the traditional art is going to survive and thrive it must evolve. Clare Waight Keller has made it her mission to bring a new relevance to couture or as she put it in her show notes at Givenchy Haute Couture SS19, create “a new language.” It starts with the aesthetic. Into her stark white lacquered show space strode Adut Akech, wearing an hourglass black jacket with a flash of white lapel, her endless legs encased in polished black latex leggings. Refined femininity and arch fashion classicism met dominatrix chic head on in this opening look. Waight Keller confidently played with the contradictions. Kaia Gerber wore an angelic white lace babydoll over a black rubberised lace bodystocking.

With the same contrariness the designer fashioned big volumes from light as air fabric. If you peered closely at the sheer lace on one vast ball skirt you could see individual pearl drops dancing with each step the model took. Nothing is quite what it seems at couture. One white lace gown was adorned at the back by what appeared to be a vast bow, it’s exaggerated winged proportions borne of a classic couture tradition. But as the model swept past the bow revealed itself to be a large satin backpack big enough to fit not just your phone fags and keys but a change of shoes, nightie, toothbrush, coat, bedtime reading book plus a post party snack for the Uber ride home. Ingenious. The details were exquisite. A vertical line of crystals traced a models backbone in one cut away dress, another full skirted red gown came with tiny leather flowers clustered around the waist. It felt fresh, surprising, desirable grand and wonderfully chic – a new language indeed.

Photographs by Jason Lloyd-Evans.