Did Clare Waight Keller leave Givenchy because ‘the Meghan Effect’ was overblown?

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Last month, Clare Waight Keller stepped down from her role at Givenchy. She was artistic director, meaning she designed for the label but, more than that, she was shaping the creative vision of the House of Givenchy during her tenure. While Givenchy used to be synonymous with the impossibly beautiful couture designed by Hubert de Givenchy, in recent years, the house does not have the same reputation, let’s just say that. From 2005 to 2017, Givenchy was helmed by Riccardo Tisci, who arguably brought the house into the modern fashion conversation, but did so at the expense of Givenchy’s reputation as a top-line couturier. In my opinion, Tisci did irreparable harm to the label, especially when it came to the Kardashianification of style (Tisci was close to Kimye and seemed to design a lot of stuff with them in mind). Clare Waight Keller was supposed to take Givenchy back to its graceful, classic look. But she didn’t really succeed. And now, of course, “people” are blaming… the Duchess of Sussex?

Over the past several years, fashion brands big and small have enjoyed huge spikes in search, sales and social media followers whenever the Duchess of Sussex wears their designs. But for the star’s wedding dress designer Clare Waight Keller, who left her role as Givenchy’s artistic director in April after just three years at the helm, it seems the Meghan Markle effect wasn’t quite enough.

Waight Keller became a household name in May 2018, when Markle married Prince Harry wearing a simple, classic white boatneck gown with three-quarter-length sleeves she had designed. At the time, she was only one year into her role at the iconic French fashion house beloved by Audrey Hepburn, and the first woman to ever serve as its artistic director.

But while most royal fans loved Markle’s wedding dress, it seems the buzz surrounding the brand didn’t translate into sales. The New York Times recently called her collections “erratic,” explaining that “though her couture telegraphed a rigorous elegance that bridged heritage and modernity … she struggled to give her ready-to-wear a signature.”

While Waight Keller’s exorbitantly expensive couture was praised by many fashion critics, the Times added, “critical brand introductions for the house in the accessibly priced category — sneakers and sweatshirts — were met with lukewarm reception when compared to rival houses like Dior or Gucci.”

Despite the fact that Markle has driven her fans to buy everything from under-$50 H&M dresses to four-figure looks by Victoria Beckham, then, it seems her followers may not have been moved (or, more likely, financially able) to splash out thousands of dollars on Givenchy goods. But that hasn’t hurt the bond between the Duchess and her favorite designer; Waight Keller recently opened up on Instagram about their “incredibly beautiful relationship of trust and intimacy,” and praised the Sussexes for being “incredibly inclusive, genuine and generous.”

So while we may not see Markle starring in a Givenchy campaign anytime soon, and Waight Keller has not yet announced her next move, don’t count out the possibility of a future collaboration between the pair.

[From Page Six]

I can’t say I was really a fan of most of Keller’s collaborations with Meghan – I liked and defended Meghan’s wedding gown, but I thought using Keller and Givenchy as a go-to royal couturier was somewhat tone-deaf and not all that productive. I’ve always felt the same way about the Duchess of Cambridge’s use of the Alexander McQueen atelier (and designer Sarah Burton) as her go-to for couture to be tone-deaf too. Kate uses Burton and Meghan uses Keller to create one-of-a-kind pieces which, for the most part, are not that great and could easily be purchased or produced cheaper somewhere else.

All that being said, of course Keller’s mixed results at Givenchy are not Meghan’s fault in any way, shape or form. I would argue that it’s not even entirely Keller’s fault – Tisci did such an overhaul on the fashion house, anyone coming in after him would have had a hard time. Meanwhile, Tisci is at Burberry now, having taken over from Christopher Bailey. I would love to see Bailey at a house like Givenchy!

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