Givenchy debuts first collection by British designer Clare Waight Keller at Paris Couture Fashion Week 2018

Emma McCarthy
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The house of Givenchy began a new chapter in its history last night as British designer Clare Waight Keller unveiled her first foray into haute couture with a show which sought to celebrate the subversive side of fairytale fashion.

Fittingly, the show invitation - a blank black notebook, stamped with a gilded lunar phase motif - symbolised both a new beginning for the brand and the darkly decadent evening wear that followed.

“For me, couture is an open book,” confirmed the designer backstage, speaking of the creative freedom such high-end collections grant. Clearly, her lack of experience on the haute stage did little to impede the impact or quality of her debut.

In a radical departure from the feminine bohemian-inspired aesthetic for which she became renowned during her six year tenure at French ready-to-wear fashion label Chloe, Waight Keller presented a polished portrayal of glossy, grown-up grunge designed for those want luxury with an edge.

Torn lace dresses, ombré-dyed tiered skirts and silvery chainmail gowns lent her premiere offering a celestial beauty. The inclusion of haute latex could also entice fashion fetishists, seen crafted into an ankle-length pale pink skirt and a flesh-coloured trench.

The show, held in Paris’s National Archives building - a site never before used as a catwalk venue - also marks as a triumphant return to the couture schedule after a seven year hiatus, with the house opting to showcase its couture in intimate salon-style presentations since 2010.

As the label’s first female artistic director, Waight Keller - who presented her first ready-to-wear collection for the label in September - succeeds Riccardo Tisci who left the label last February after 12 years at the helm.

During his tenure, Tisci was credited with bringing a gothic - and often risqué - sense of drama to the house and with it a devoted band of red carpet risk takers. Among his most high-profile creations include Kim Kardashian-West’s wedding dress and the shockingly sheer, strategically-embellished “naked” gown Beyoncé’s wore to the 2015 Met Gala.

Judging from the dresses on offer last night, Givenchy’s loyal A-list troupe should not be left lacking in choice this awards season, with Waight Keller’s modern interpretation of pretty tough glamour looking set to cast the net of appeal even wider still.

The inclusion of multiple razor-sharp tailoring options also offered variety for the night owl who doesn’t do gowns, while a series of cocktail coats, which were lined with ostrich feathers and draped over crystal dresses, were attuned to the often-overlooked practical needs of the super-rich wardrobe.

Of course, the clout of new-era Givenchy has already been confirmed after Nicole Kidman chose to preview one of Waight Keller’s designs at The Golden Globes earlier this month.