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What’s next for Givenchy with the departure of Clare Waight Keller

After three years, Clare Waight Keller takes her leave from Givenchy with no successor named. What's next for the fashion house?

After three years at the creative helm, Clare Waight Keller parted ways with Givenchy. Keller was the first woman to be the artistic director at the French Maison and “was honoured to be given the opportunity to cherish its legacy and bring it new life,” she said in a statement.

While Keller rose to global fame for designing Meghan Markle’s wedding dress, her impact on the world of fashion was beyond the bridal. She steered Givenchy away from the gothic romanticism and street aesthetics of her predecessor Riccardo Tisci, returning instead to the elegance of Hubert de Givenchy. She also combined menswear and womenswear, and reintroduced haute couture.

(Related: Why luxury fashion brands and streetwear are now frequently collaborating)

Unfortunately, she fell victim to the shifting sands of the luxury fashion world, many of whom had begun introducing streetwear elements to their designs, in part to arrest declining revenues and court a younger set who would rather splash cash on limited edition sneakers than luxurious clothes. Her streetwear-infused collections, however, were met with lukewarm receptions from both critics and consumers.

Keller also had to deal with the shadow of Tisci, who returned Givenchy to profitability in the 12 years he was there and made the brand “cool”. Givenchy’s parent company LVMH did not reveal the financial performance of the fashion brand in the annual reports, but it’s apparent that Keller’s tenure at Givenchy did not meet up to the monetary expectations of the executives.

The way forward for Givenchy is now rather murky, considering the long-lasting effects of the Covid-19 pandemic that has seen luxury sales drop and the global economy totter dangerously close to the precipice. Perhaps the brand saw this as an opportunity to reset and take its time to reconsider the future without the spectre of next quarter’s board meeting on its shoulders. While Givenchy has yet to name a successor, a few names have repeatedly pop up, including streetwear designer Matthew Williams of 1017 ALYX 9SM.

(Related: Why top fashion brands are hiring creative chiefs like Virgil Abloh)

Matthew Williams. Picture courtesy of Nike.

Matthew Williams. Picture courtesy of Nike.

The similarities between Tisci and Williams are endless. Both count Kanye West as compatriots, are in touch with the current cultural zeitgeist, and design clothes that are loved by Millennials. Hiring Williams would mean a return to streetwear aesthetics and a subtle acknowledgement from LVMH that elegance and legacy isn’t a needle mover.

In a way, it’s also a sign of the times – that a designer shouldn’t only be great in design, but be a personal brand unto themselves. And Williams definitely ticks all those boxes. We wait with bated breath.