Givenchy serves romantic cowboy in Paris for AW20
With a side helping of modernist Maharaja.
Photography Mitchell Sams
‘Modern Maharaja', an exhibition about the uber-stylish Maharajah of Indore just closed its doors at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Clare Waight Keller was one its visitors, seeing first-hand how the Indian aristocrat created a stylish life for himself in the ‘20s and ‘30s with the help of Art Deco tastemakers -- everyone from Man Ray to Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand to Constantin Brancusi. Shunning the Baroque and Rococo opulence that was expected of him (and indeed favoured by many of his contemporaries) he circumnavigated cultural and racial stereotypes by interpreting his heritage through the lens of Modernism. As a result, he has gone down in history as one of the most stylish men who ever lived.
You can see why his story would be such irresistible catnip for a fashion designer, especially one at a couture house in Paris. It comes as no surprise then, to discover that Clare’s latest menswear collection for Givenchy took its cue from the Modernist Maharajah. But it wasn’t a literal interpretation of his sharp suiting and slicked-back hair. Instead, it centred on the idea of an “urban drifter, who came and captured different types of cultures,” as she explained after the show, which was held in the house’s George V couture salons. “The openness of cultures and the way things intermingle was a really important part of the story.”
Somehow -- by way of the fact that the Maharajah eventually migrated to Los Angeles -- the Givenchy man came out looking like a Parisian cowboy, himself drifting away from Savile Row through the embroidery department of Givenchy’s couture ateliers. There were Stetson-style hats, a worn-in leather trench and steel-toed cowboy boots. Plenty of long, lean tailoring, too, which was a step in a more formal direction than the sportier mood of her previous menswear collections.
“I want to represent that really sharp side of Givenchy -- the dark, mysterious romance which is running through all of my work here,” she reasoned. Buttonless shirts worn under wide-lapelled suits had that that louche rock-star-in-arrivals-hall paparazzi shot vibe, having just flown in from CDG to LAX, naturally. You could see Harry Styles in the boxy violet suit and Timothée Chalamet in the wisp of a tuxedo waistcoat (nothing underneath) with slightly flared trousers. Oh, and peeping out of oversized sweaters and ornately embellished blazers were jewel-tone latex tops (Timothée will want those too) which Clare has explored before at Givenchy -- mainly for their unique blend of kinky perversion and the couture-like handcraft they demand. That might all sound like a bit of a mouthful of a collection, but honestly, it couldn’t look more streamlined or sharp. Or sexy, for that matter. Sometimes it takes a woman’s touch.
Photography Mitchell Sams