baudelaire meets seoul street style at givenchy’s spring/summer 20 show
Clare Waight Keller’s debut standalone menswear show at Pitti was all about the fusion of old and new.
"We call it ‘nouveau glitch’, this fusion of old and new world aesthetics, Baudelaire then and Asian street style now,” Clare Waight Keller excitedly explained during a press preview of the Givenchy spring/summer 20 men’s show. Having included men’s looks in her couture show from the outset, the Birmingham-born artistic director was ready to push her Givenchy man centre stage.
“For me, this is the perfect, serendipitous moment,” she told us, “I’d been looking to do a show and wanted to do something very special, and then the invitation came to show at Pitti.” Building on the “perverse posh” of her autumn/winter 19 men’s collection, Clare used her headline guest slot at the 2019 edition of Pitti Immagine Uomo in Florence to create a series of unexpected culture clashes, all taking place in the labyrinthine Baroque gardens of the Villa Palmieri on the city’s outskirts.
Despite the formal setting, Clare both reawakened and warped the spirit of classicism that is part of Florence’s cultural fabric, taking traditional prints and distorting them. “Tapestries are spliced and patched together, some look like they’ve gone through a computer program,” Clare explained of the archive Italian jacquards which were inspired by Charles Baudelaire’s floral book cover graphics. The fabrics were used in overcoats and trousers, morphing from traditional scrolling florals into new, pixelated forms, reflecting this time-hopping narrative.
Elsewhere, the focus was on developing the tailoring 2.0 that Clare introduced last season. In relaxed three-button -- “it feels so modern, back to the 90s because I’m obsessed,” she told us -- and double-breasted shapes, soft jackets (sometimes sleeveless) were cut in technical cottons, crisp checks and subtle pinstripes paired with matching straight or wide 90s trousers, slung with doubled belts and chains.
In blooming print mesh and technical knits, cycling tops hugged the torso like a second skin, layered beneath tailoring and engineered outerwear; there were also boxy short-sleeved shirts teamed with cargo pants for a play between formal and informal codes. And all without a formal shoe in sight. In fact, the show unveiled a surprise collaboration with Onitsuka Tiger as Clare reimagined one of her own favourite trainers, the Nippon-Made Mexico 66TM heritage style. After their debut in Florence, both trainers are available to buy now, so don’t sleep on this unexpected creative partnership.
The collaboration was another example of the culture clashes that have pushed the Givenchy man into a brave new world. “I’m very specific about how I want to see the attitude of the boy and the man,” she told us. “It has to reflect the sense of freedom and almost expressive tribalism that fascinates me. We discovered it in Asia today, the street style of Seoul, Tokyo and beyond reminds me of what was happening on UK streets in the 80s and 90s. It’s very eclectic, but highly considered.” Just like Clare’s newly-defined Givenchy man.