In the new Givenchy advertising campaign, the first thing you’ll notice is what is missing rather than what’s there. There are very few clothes. Instead, models – three women, one man – are scantily clad and draped with felines. So far, so fashion – but this is more than the latest example of how Veronica Corningstone’s report on a cat fashion show in Anchorman became classic designer inspo. It’s the first look at what Clare Waight Keller, new in at Givenchy and first woman ever at the helm, will be doing with the house.
Waight Keller was previously at Chloé, a house known for frills, femininity and what the French call flou – basically floaty, boho clothes made for running through wheat fields. Givenchy, by contrast, is more Parisian , accessorised with a Gauloise and a walk along the Seine, as designed by founder Hubert de Givenchy. Or with a biker jacket and Instagram filter in the era of Waight Keller’s predecessor Riccardo Tisci.
This campaign – which has been dubbed Transformation Seduction by Givenchy – is a smart way to give a teaser of what can be expected of Waight Keller’s debut proper, on the Paris catwalk in October. While the clothes don’t give the game away, there’s a louche, loungey mood that holds some clues and brings the buzz. Think somewhere on a Venn diagram between Givenchy’s Audrey Hepburn-dressing class, Tisci’s zeitgeisty appeal and Waight Keller’s own talent to make uncomplicated, desirable clothes. It definitely looks to be sexier than the garments she was known for at Chloé.
The images also signpost the inclusion of menswear – both genders will be part of the show for the first time – and an enigmatic take on fashion. In the press release that accompanies these images, the British designer described the world of Givenchy as a place “where women and men alike are strong, stoic and mysterious”. Light on lols, maybe, but arty and sophisticated. Waight Keller’s women and men are shot by Steven Meisel – the kind of uber-photographer whose endorsement shows that the new Givenchy has the approval of fashion’s top table.
As for the cats, they were inspired by Waight Keller’s discovery that Hubert, like herself, was an animal fan and designed some prints in 1953 with feline eyes. For her part, Waight Keller is out to improve Corningstone’s assignment: the cats in these images are worthy of a news report. They model custom-made Givenchy collars, which will be available to purchase.