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Clare Waight Keller: Givenchy’s first female artistic director who designed Meghan Markle's wedding dress quits

The 49-year-old designer took to Instagram to make the announcement herself, where she emotionally bid farewell to the French fashion house
UPDATED APR 14, 2020
Clare Waight Keller (Getty Images)
Clare Waight Keller (Getty Images)

Clare Waight Keller is stepping down from her position as the artistic director of  Givenchy after serving a three-year tenure. 

The 49-year-old designer took to Instagram to make the announcement herself, where she emotionally bid farewell to the French fashion house. "From the heart.  After three truly wonderful years, the time has come to close my chapter at Givenchy," she captioned a black and white picture of herself working on a Givenchy design.

Waight Keller's appointment to the position in March 2017 was no short of revolutionary, as she became the first-ever female artistic director in the haute-couture brand's 68-year history. She took over from Riccardo Tisci, who had previously served in the position and taken remodeled Givenchy with his more contemporary approach to fashion design. When she took over the reins of the Maison, many hoped that Waight Keller would restore the brand's vision to its former glory and go back to its roots, the ones founded by Hubert de Givenchy in 1952 deriving inspiration from the evergreen, Audrey Hepburn.

She indeed brought in major changes, and quite rapidly so. Waight Keller reintroduced the brand couture presenting five magnificent collections, and also brought back Givenchy's menswear. As a designer for Givenchy, she's credited for producing ten collections, annually. According to a New York Times report, her fall '20 ready-to-wear collection which was presented at Paris Fashion Week a few months ago was her last.

Clare Waight Keller attends the #BoF500 Cocktail Event as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2017 at Hotel de Ville on October 4, 2016 in Paris, France (Getty Images)

"As the first woman to be the Artistic Director of this legendary Maison, I feel honored to have been given the opportunity to cherish its legacy and bring it new life", she continued in her Instagram statement. Furthermore, she went on to thank the “unsung heroes and heroines behind the scenes, for their contribution from product to communications and retail, and every global team member, partner, and supplier in between."

Although she's bringing this chapter of her life to a close, the designer expressed her excitement for the future and prospects that she is yet to reveal. "I am now looking forward to embarking on the next episode. Love and creativity remain central to what I do, and who I am, as does a heartfelt belief in kindness, and the courage to be true to your art. See you soon, and most importantly, stay safe," she added. 

Sidney Toledano, the chairman, and CEO of Givenchy's parent company, LVMH, in an official press release said, "I want to warmly thank Clare Waight Keller for her contribution to Givenchy’s latest chapter. 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. I wish Clare all the best in her future endeavors."

Waight Keller is a lauded designer, someone that's made significant contributions to fashion. Here are four things about the British designer that you probably didn't know:

She designed Meghan Markle's glorious wedding gown

Meghan Markle arrives for her wedding to Prince Harry at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England (Getty Images)

Waight Keller secretly worked on Meghan Markle's Givenchy wedding dress for over five months. Even her husband had no clue that she was the couturier behind the former Duchess of Sussex's dressed until the morning of the wedding. She revealed later on that she worked with a minuscule team of ateliers based in Paris to design the perfect dress but kept it on the down-low. In 2018, she accepted the British Designer of the Year Womenswear Award from Markle, who applauded the modiste for her understanding of the persona and emotional connection that women have with their clothing. Markle also praised her for her focus on “supporting and empowering each other, especially as women”, which was what appealed to her most about Waight Keller.

She has impressive industry experience

Designer Clare Waight Keller is seen on the runway during the Chloe show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2017 on September 29, 2016 in Paris, France (Getty Images)

An alumnus of the Royal College of Art, London, Waight Keller began her career at Calvin Klein, New York designing women's ready-to-wear before jumping to Ralph Lauren to work on the Purple Label men's collection. She joined Gucci as the senior designer for women's ready-to-wear and accessories collection in 2000. She then became the creative director for Pringle of Scotland, redefined the brand's style and staged its first fashion show in 2006. She was named 'Designer of the Year' in 2007, at the Scottish Fashion Awards. In 2011, she moved to Paris where she served as the creative director at Chloé and she revamped the brand into a signature romantic, feminine and radiant fashion house. In 2017, she assumed the position of artistic director at Givenchy.

She is the designer behind some iconic red-carpet looks

Cate Blanchett at the Cannes Film Festival 2018, Lily Collins at the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Getty Images)

There's a possibility you've admired her work before. Waight Keller designed Cate Blanchett's rainbow-hued organza-tiered skirt and cut-out top, at the Cannes Film Festival. She was also behind Lily Collin's iconic 2018 Met Gala ensemble.  

She is a working mother of three

Waight-Keller is the epitome of a working woman who may know the nuances between her personal life and work. In a 2018 Vogue Interview, the designer spoke about balancing home and work life, as a mom of three. She said that "being a parent you just become really good at multitasking quickly, accurately, and efficiently because you're so distracted." She acknowledged that it is indeed hard to keep up with the fast-paced fashion industry, while also juggling having a family. "I hate to say it but it's true, women are constantly overlooked because they are still prejudiced for having families, which I find very small-minded and not very progressive. It's hard because this industry isn't as welcoming as people think to get to the top," she added.