Givenchy Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2019

by Long Nguyen

A white book with a hundred blank pages of thick white paper was Givenchy’s invitation for the haute couture show inside the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris. White was also the painted cover with vinyl floor, carpeting but also the central message of the show – “bleached canvas” a reset to start afresh from ground zero to construct a couture collection with what is the present absence of historical references and inspiration boards. Clare Waight Keller decided to let the clothes themselves be the reference point with a departure from the neck. She presented a black double breasted jacket, with one lapel tucked inside and the other folded outward in contrasting white silk. The look hugged the hips and was highlighted with side patch pockets worn with black latex legging pant that opened the stellar show brimmed with novel ideas and flawless executions.   

From this clean slate, Waight Keller constructed each garment with a fresh point of view often mixing elements of hard and soft or in haute couture parlance combining the skills of the tailleur and flou ateliers, each side responsible respectively for the black sleeveless and backless wool jacket with a back flap and the fuchsia layered silk jacquard skirt with cylinder hip bands that flare out to the floor.  This dichotomy pervaded the collection as seen in the white lacquered Swiss guipure short dress with white shoulder pads anchoring the triangular front flap and a flare micro skirt underneath the draped lace or a tight acid yellow strapless corset and yellow vinyl legging made for the show by the latex specialist Atsuko Kudo paired with a white floral embroidered tulle.  

The construction of the clothes followed certain logic of architecture juxtaposing opposing lines to create an overall effect of combining strictly fitted and volume shapes together like the straight lines of the jacket with the curves of the ball skirt or the stretch effect of a red latex turtleneck with a criss-cross embroidered metallic lace and flowy silk gown strapped dress.  A straight crop black wool jacket had large shiny silk satin puff sleeves.  These contrasts played out on garments throughout the show even the men’s tailored suit were made with shiny fabrics and one black jacket had silver embroideries to soften its rigid cut shape. Even the backpack underwent a transformation now with large wing shape folds on each side, almost like the pack of a giant parachute albeit one made with silk satin.  The power of the clothes laid in this mixture of opposites.  

Waight Keller clearly demonstrated with this third show her command of haute couture with clarity of techniques and meticulous detailed craftsmanship but it’s her strong aesthetic direction that will prove viable for the future of couture at Givenchy.