Well, here’s a curveball no one was expecting: Clare Waight Keller, who showed her final collection for Chloé earlier this month, has been announced as artistic director for Givenchy. She’ll succeed Riccardo Tisci as the second female designer to helm an LVMH couture house, following Maria Grazia Chiuri’s appointment at Dior last year. According to the brand, she’ll oversee women’s and men’s ready-to-wear and accessories as well as couture. Her start date will be May 2, with her first collection set to debut in October during Paris fashion week.
The news, which the French house shared via Instagram this morning, comes as a bit of a surprise—especially because rumor had it that Virgil Abloh might be taking over. Before the brand posted the black and white photo of Waight Keller, it appears they teased the news minutes prior via a portrait of the house’s founder, Hubert de Givenchy, and then a quote by him that reads, “True elegance comes with a natural feature, an attitude in simplicity.”
Waight Keller, if you’ll recall, was one of the prospective designers we speculated could take over at the storied house after Tisci’s abrupt departure after 12 years. (Others included Hedi Slimane, Marco Zanini, and Olivier Rousteing.) A con, we wrote, was that the British designer lives in London, and Givenchy’s atelier is in Paris. The commute was reportedly one of the reasons she left Chloé, but after today’s unexpected news, who knows if that’s actually true. Also, we weren’t sure if Waight Keller’s bohemian aesthetic—which, to be fair, has earned her a cult following of cool girls—would align with the aesthetic Tisci made popular at Givenchy, one of loud graphics, sportswear-inspired influences, and a dark, sensual romanticism.
Still, Waight Keller’s appointment marks an entirely new direction for the house. Despite not having experience within the couture realm, the British designer will likely bring her talent for designing covetable, dreamy clothes and accessories to Givenchy, and hopefully, she will tap into the storied elegance from which the house was built upon in 1952, similar to what Demna Gvasalia did this season for Balenciaga.
“Hubert de Givenchy’s confident style has alway been an inspiration and I am very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this legendary House’s history,” Waight Keller said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the teams and writing a new chapter in this beautiful story.”