Clare Waight Keller looked to nature for inspiration, as the house works to burnish its green credentials.
Stella McCartney, you’ve got company: There’s a group of budding eco-warriers sprouting up at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
Since the British designer joined the world’s biggest luxury group last summer, its top creative directors have become more vocal about their (admittedly fledgling) environmental initiatives. For Givenchy’s last runway show, Clare Waight Keller showed ripped jeans made from upcycled vintage pieces in a nod to sustainability.
Her pre-fall collection was preoccupied with nature, though in a less pragmatic way. Extreme surfers informed the men’s designs, with a palette ranging from ice blue to hot lava. The women’s side explored the more sensual side of nature, with the iris flower as a recurring theme.
It appeared as an allover motif on colorful crepe de chine shirts and dresses, or as a graphic black-and-white jacquard pattern on a cocoon coat or a bell-shaped dress. These contrasted with the baby blue of a flimsy nylon drawstring parka, or the tender pink of a shearling bomber jacket and coat.
Waight Keller said the clothes were designed for longevity. “It’s always been part of my mission in designing to have some sense of a sort of heirloom quality to the clothes, and that I wanted to bring in through this collection as well,” she explained.
Hence the twists on classics, such as a cargo shirt in butter-soft leather, a tailored beige cotton coat in the brand’s new monogram jacquard, and dual-duty eveningwear, like a black bustier dress with sculptural, removable sleeves in purple, or a vivid pink cape dress that could be worn back-to-front.
The designer said that while she has introduced some organic or recycled fibers in the men’s collection — as well as recycled plastics and polymers on some sneakers — Givenchy has yet to make a “big mission” out of the initiatives.
“It’s still a very new territory for a lot of luxury brands, because the sustainability part hasn’t gone through all the testing of the classic fabrics that you’ve used for decades, such as crepe de chine and cashmeres and wools,” she said.
“Everybody knows how those behave, how they deteriorate, how they age. It’s much more undefinable with organic and recycled,” noted Waight Keller, adding that some countries also have different requirements and standards in place for sustainable fabrics, meaning new quality controls must be put in place.
“Talking to designers within our group, it’s something we’re all extremely conscious of. But it’s a process, it takes time, and I think even Stella has been quite open about the fact that it can take several years to get something to the point where it’s at a commercially acceptable level,” she remarked.
Givenchy is taking some concrete steps, such as using recycled and sustainable materials for the new packaging it will introduce next year. Waight Keller, whose twin teenage daughters are climate activists, is also working to reduce the environmental impact of her show sets.
“Every single show since I started, I’ve used the same seating. No one’s known that,” she explained.
“And the last show in September, the flooring was all recycled rubber. I’m not shouting loud about it, but it’s something that I’m extremely conscious of, and it’s just become part my own personal ethos at home and I’m trying to bring that into the choices that I make here as well,” she added.
So by all means, treat yourself to her decadent herringbone shaved shearling coat, or a fabulous hand-sprayed dégradé metallic disco dress. But you might consider doing a little wardrobe recycling of your own.