Born in 1970 in Birmingham, England, Clare Waight Keller studied at Ravensbourne College of Art before being picked up by Calvin Klein out of graduate school. From Calvin Klein, Waight Keller moved to Ralph Lauren, designing for his Purple Label. After Ralph Lauren, Tom Ford picked her to work at Gucci with Christopher Bailey and Francisco Costa, before being made creative director of iconic British knitwear label, Pringle of Scotland.
From there, Waight Keller’s fame took off. Upon leaving Pringle of Scotland, she was tapped to be the creative director of Chloé, reimagining the classic, but somewhat tired French house. At Chloé, Waight Keller infused flowing, feminine silhouettes with a seventies flair, taking the brand from drab to Parisian fab.
In addition to her incredible clothing collections for Chloé, Waight Keller is responsible for designing the brand’s most coveted bags. From the mini Marcie saddle bag, to the dainty drew, to the practical yet fun Faye bag, Waight Keller forced Chloé bags into the spotlight in a way no previous creative director had done.
After her time at Chloé, Waight Keller assumed her most prominent role yet: creative director of Givenchy. Succeeding Riccardo Tisci, who then became creative director of Burberry, Waight Keller combined the stark, monochromatic, modern lines of Tisci’s creative with her own fanciful feminine, and luxurious designs, models swishing down the runway in flirty lace slips with black ankle boots and baby blue blouses with olive cargo pants.
In her new tenure as creative director of Givenchy, not only did Waight Keller revolutionize the house’s ready-to-wear collections, but she debuted her first haute couture collections, in keeping with the house’s long and profound heritage as a haute couture icon. In these collections, Waight Keller’s expertly-designed pieces showed influences from other great British designers like Alexander McQueen, former creative director Riccardo Tisci, and her fun and funky seventies Chloé roots.
Finally, Clare Waight Keller’s magnum opus: Meghan Markle’s wedding dress. It’s every designer’s dream to be a royal wedding dress designer–not only is it mysterious, the name of the designer kept from the public until the bride steps out from the Rolls Royce and delicately walks up the stairs of the church, but the press received by the designer catapults their reputation and asserts their position as one of the biggest and most accomplished names in high fashion.
On May 19th, 2018, Meghan Markle stepped out in front of Windsor Chapel, her simple yet elegant boat-neck dress trailing down the stairs, her cathedral veil, framed by lace, falling gently over her dress. As she exits the church with Prince Harry after the ceremony, surrounded by a dizzying array of stunning flowers, it is announced that the designer is Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy. Suddenly, Clare Waight Keller is the most-searched designer on earth.
As this chapter in Waight Keller’s career closes, it’s bittersweet, but it gives us much to look forward to from the British designer. And, although we don’t know where she will end up next, we anticipate many more knockout collections, statement bags, and iconic moments on the runway, red carpet, and beyond from the truly incomparable Clare Waight Keller.
À plus tard, Clare!