Why Givenchy was the perfect choice of designer for that gorgeous Meghan Markle wedding gown
There's more to this dress designer choice than meets the eye
And the bride wore Givenchy. Before she became HRH The Duchess of Sussex, the question on everyone’s lips was: which designer will be chosen to create the hotly anticipated Meghan Markle wedding gown? And she finally chose from French fashion house, Givenchy, which has a long history of bringing in talent from the United Kingdom: fashion greats including John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, and Riccardo Tisci (who, while not British, made a home for himself living and studying in the UK from his late teens). And now Clare Waight Keller, the first female Artistic Director at the luxury French fashion house — and the designer of Markle’s wedding dress.
Royal Wedding aside, Givenchy’s role-call of previous creative directors is a prime example of the internationalism at the heart of fashion and culture today.
There is no one national identity central to the direction that a fashion house — or any institution — has to take in 2018. The doors are open provided there are shared values, creative or otherwise.
Let’s not forget that the fashion house also epitomised grace throughout the 20th century. It was a favourite of those considered timeless style pin-ups: Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn. You could see that in the meticulously placed, minimal seam work and the open bateau neckline.
“All my life, I have tried to forge my own path and follow it”, Givenchy’s founder Hubert de Givenchy told SYSTEM magazine in 2014. And that is the trajectory Markle has been clear about taking, telling ELLE in 2015 that if there wasn’t a place for her in society, she would ‘create her own box’. She was talking about race. And Givenchy was no stranger to addressing the lack of diversity on the runways.
“At one point in the 1970s, his entire cabine was almost exclusively African-American girls — and no one was doing that then!”, designer Jeffrey Banks told Vanity Fair of Givenchy earlier this year.
The house has always been progressive. And looking at the recent appointments at luxury houses (men designing for the industry’s major labels — Nicolas Ghesquière at Vuitton, Riccardo Tisci at Burberry, Hedi Slimane at Céline), it’s not exactly common practice to appoint a woman to the top-seat.
But Waight Keller being the first woman to helm of Givenchy no doubt has something to do with the Royal’s decision to choose her.
While working as creative director at Chloé, Keller told ELLE that around 85 per cent of the workforce was female. And she had gone some way to prove that any top job is within reach if you are given the chance — and time — to make it, interviewing for the role while pregnant. She’s also adamant that the support of other women in senior positions is what got her to where she is today.
Markle’s choice of dress designer was always going to be a well-thought out decision. And it’s clear that the Duchess is signalling change, pushing for more than a moment of female power, and respectfully nodding to the work done by those before her (those with a duty of responsibility in the public eye).
Long may she reign.
From: ELLE UK