Givenchy has revealed the designer who will take on the role of creative director at the brand – two months after Clare Waight Keller, the woman behind Meghan Markle’s wedding dress, walked away from the role.
The luxury French fashion brand named Matthew Williams, 34, as its new creative director on Monday, revealing that he will take on the role from Tuesday, when he will begin preparing his debut collection – which is due to be shown in October.
Williams is best known for starting his own high-end streetwear label, 1017 Alyx 9SM in 2015, however he also boasts an impressive roster of celebrity friends and clients, having worked on costumes for pop singer Lady Gaga, and collaborated with the likes of Kanye West and Louis Vuitton designer Virgil Abloh.
Stepping up: Designer Matthew Williams has been revealed as the new creative director of Givenchy, two months after Meghan Markle’s wedding dress designer stepped down
Trendy: Williams, 34, is reported to have never had formal design training – however he boasts a slew of celebrity pals, including Kanye West (left) and Virgil Abloh (right)
Pals: The California native is also close friends with model Bella Hadid
The announcement of Williams as Givenchy’s new creative director comes almost two months to the day after Waight Keller stepped down from the position, having spent three years at the brand – during which time she designed ensembles for a wide range of high-profile clients, including the Duchess of Sussex.
Williams’ appointment signals a new direction for the once-classical Parisian stalwart that used to be associated with the demure styles of Audrey Hepburn.
In a statement on Monday, Williams, who is reported to have had no formal design training said he was looking forward to working with Givenchy ‘to move it into a new era, based on modernity and inclusivity’.
He added: ‘In these unprecedented times for the world, I want to send a message of hope, together with my community and colleagues, and intend to contribute toward positive change.’
Sidney Tolenado, Fashion Group CEO for LVMH, Givenchy’s parent company, said of Williams: ‘I believe his singular vision of modernity will be a great opportunity for Givenchy to write its new chapter with strength and success.’
Prior to landing the role at Givenchy, Williams spent years building an impressive reputation in the fashion industry – and a slew of A-list pals, including model Bella Hadid.
He spent years designing costumes for Lady Gaga, working as her creative director, and he also held the role of West’s artistic director – a position that helped the two form a close friendship that remains to this day.
Waight Keller, 49, who was the first ever woman to head up the couture designer label, has risen to even greater prominence outside of the fashion industry over the past few years, during which she has become one of Meghan’s most-worn designers.
But it was the former actress’s wedding dress that truly made Clare a household name, after Meghan tied the knot with Prince Harry in May 2018 in front of the world while wearing one of the British designer’s creations.
The end of an era: Clare Waight Keller, who designed Meghan’s wedding dress, announced in April that she was leaving her role at the head of Givenchy after three years
Moving on: The 49-year-old became the first woman to helm the couture French fashion label in 2017
Since then, 38-year-old Meghan has worn a number of Clare’s Givenchy designs – turning to the label to dress her for many prominent engagements, including her June 2018 outing at Ascot alongside the Queen.
In December 2018, Meghan made clear how close the two women had become when she made a surprise appearance at the British Fashion Awards, where she presented Clare with the prestigious British Womenswear Designer of the Year award.
The Duchess of Sussex, who was pregnant with her son Archie at the time, looked stunning in a one-shoulder Givenchy gown, which showed off her bump to full effect.
While on stage, Meghan opened up about her very personal connection to fashion, noting ‘we have a deep connection to what we wear’.
‘Sometimes it’s deeply personal, sometimes it’s emotional,’ she went on, before praising Clare’s ‘kindness’ and the ‘values’.
Once on stage, the designer was just as complimentary about the former royal, saying: ‘This woman is so amazing. I got to know Meghan on such a personal level.
‘To have someone like that trust you on such a personal moment in their life… I can’t thank you enough because it was the most beautiful moment.’
Global fame: Clare and Meghan are close friends, and in December 2018, a pregnant Meghan made a surprise appearance at the British Fashion Awards to give the designer an award
Bond: The two women spoke very highly of one another during the star-studded event, with Meghan praising Clare’s ‘kindness’ and the ‘values’
Firm favorite: Meghan has worn Clare’s Givenchy designs many times, including during an official engagement at Ascot in June 2018, when she and Prince Harry joined the Queen
According to WWD, which broke the news of Clare’s departure, her decision to step down comes at the end of her initial three-year contract, and follows the recent debut of her final collection for the brand, which was shown on the runways at Paris Fashion Week on March 1, shortly before the coronavirus outbreak shut down much of Europe.
The show, which featured superstar model Kaia Gerber, daughter of supermodel Cindy Crawford, received much positive feedback from critics – although she faced some mixed public reviews in January when she debuted a new wedding dress design at Paris Couture Week.
The majority of style lovers were blown away with the design, which was modeled by Kaia, with one gushing: ‘Such a beautiful moment but I don’t know what to say.’
Others dubbed it ‘perfection’ and stunning’.
However other style fans were less impressed and complained it made even lithe Kaia look ‘huge’.
Clare did not address her reasons for exiting the brand while making a statement about her departure, which was given to WWD, instead simply saying that her time at Givenchy has been ‘one of the highlights’ of her career.
‘Focusing on a world based on haute couture has been one of the highlights of my professional journey,’ Clare, who was born in Birmingham, said.
Special: Meghan’s dress is said to have cost around $250,000, and featured a stunning 15ft veil that was embroidered with 53 flowers of the Commonwealth
‘I have shared so many incredible moments with the brilliant Givenchy ateliers and design teams: Your exceptional talent and dedication will forever remain in my memories.
‘My heartfelt thanks go out to each of the unsung heroes and heroines behind the scenes, for their contribution from product to communications and retail, and every global team member, partner and supplier in between.’
Clare, who did not give any hints as to what her next steps will be, began her career as a stylist for Calvin Klein in New York City, before joining Ralph Lauren.
In 2000, she was hired by Tom Ford for a role at Gucci, where she was responsible for women’s ready-to-wear and accessories, a position that she held for four years.
A year later, she moved to Pringle of Scotland, where – her Givenchy bio notes – she ‘redefined the House’s style and knitwear heritage’, earning the title of Designer of the Year at the Scottish Fashion Awards in 2007.
In 2011, she moved to Paris in order to take on the position of creative director at Chloe, a role that truly helped to define her career, while cementing her status as one of the world’s most sought-after designers.
Take a bow: Clare’s final collection for the brand was the fall/winter 2020 line, which was debuted on the runway at Paris Fashion Week in March, when Kaia Gerber stole the show
Awkward: Two months earlier, Clare debuted this wedding dress design at Paris Couture Fashion Week. The design received mixed reviews from the public
Controversial: Some people praised the ‘stunning’ design, while others were less complimentary about Clare’s creation
She moved to Givenchy in 2017, and since then she has amassed a legion of celebrity fans, including Ariana Grande and Gal Gadot.
One year after joining the brand, Clare was chosen by Meghan to design her wedding dress – in what many saw as a rather surprising decision on the part of the Duchess of Sussex.
The designer behind the dress remained a closely-guarded secret until the day of the ceremony, when royal fans around the world were treated to their first glimpse at the beautiful bride – and her stunning silk gown, which left Prince Harry in tears when he first saw his future wife.
An emotional Harry told his bride ‘you look amazing’ after she wafted down the aisle in the classic silk gown in pure white, with a 15ft veil embroidered with flowers of the Commonwealth.
The bespoke creation is estimated to have cost $250,000, including $97,000 for custom-made fabric and $5,000 for fittings.
The veil was made from silk tulle with a trim of hand-embroidered flowers in silk threads and organza, while the look was completed by a Cartier bracelet and earrings and a Queen Mary diamond bandeau tiara, loaned to her by the Queen.