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Clare Waight Keller unveils her new Givenchy girl at Paris Fashion Week. But what’s she like?

Well, we'll give you a clue. She's soft but edgy - and a whole lot 1980s. Read on for the full story on the Paris Fashion Week debut everyone's been waiting to see...

Last week at the Dior show in Paris, designer Maria Grazia Chiuri kicked off proceedings with a copy of the 1971 Linda Nochlin essay ‘Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?’ on each seat. Chiuri is of course the first female designer to lead the house, her spring 2017 debut accompanied by a blizzard of headlines to that effect. On Saturday at Paris Fashion Week, fashion took another leap forward towards, um, the 21st century (newness-obsessed industry aimed at, paid for and supported by women, but run by men? Oh, the irony). Another powerhouse woman, ex-Chloe designer Clare Waight Keller, unveiled her first collection for another historic French house at the Givenchy show in Paris. And boy, was it a well-shod leap. But more of that in a minute.

Waight Keller’s take on the easy, breezy Chloe girl was a success, but Givenchy is a much more refined, structured affair. It’s the house that basically invented the LBD – Hubert’s impeccable designs for his close friend Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s are as iconic as the actress herself.  In recent years, previous Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci had us weak-kneed with desire for his darkly glamorous, gothic designs. So Waight Keller had her work cut out. And she definitely cut it – from the shoulders, to be precise.

Givenchy show

Combining 1980s and 1960s references from the archive, the new Givenchy show was a grown-up take on the big-shouldered 80s silhouette that’s popping up on catwalks everywhere, peppered with the odd moment of pure Sixties-Audrey heaven – like a black lace-sleeved dress with three perfect gathered satin bows down the front.

Givenchy show

There were roomy sleeveless shirts, padded at the shoulder to give them a triangular, 1980s silhouette, shirt dresses spliced with sections of knife pleats, blouson jackets in denim and leather, skinny leather trousers with splits at the ankle and some delightfully Dynasty graphic prints.

Givenchy show

Givenchy show

 

Givenchy show

Givenchy show

Waight Keller’s experience with the floaty flou side of things came through in ruffled dresses, one in delicate tiers of peppermint green chiffon and edged with scarlet lace.

Givenchy show

A standout blue-on-blue striped look,  gathered at the shoulders, managed to look graphic but waftily romantic at the same time – quite the feat.

Givenchy show

Of course, we’re saving the very best till last. And we’re talking about the accessories. Namely – cowboy boots. But not your old beaten-up tan leather pair from Portobello, mais non. These are a luxurious, Paris-chic hybrid – plunging into a V at the front, but with a narrow high heel, and trimmed with snakeskin. Black or caramel – this will be our dilemma when these hit the shops. If they don’t all sell out before they actually get there, that is.

Givenchy show

Givenchy show

On the bag front, boxy miniature styles (some attached to belts) with slim gold double chains and square brass Givenchy-logo clasps have ‘It-bag-in-the-making’ stamped all over them. Not literally, of course – Waight Keller is far too chic for ironic slogans.

Givenchy show

Stay tuned for more Paris Fashion Week action…

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