A poetic departure from chaos at Givenchy’s Spring 2020 show at Pitti Uomo

Clare Waight Keller, Creative Director in command at Givenchy, chose the lavish backdrop and luxurious gardens of the Villa Palmieri - Where Giovanni Boccaccio wrote parts of the Decameron - to debut her first menswear Spring 2020 collection for the house. In doing this, she fused an old world with a new one, signaling greater things still to come from the Parisian behemoth.

The Creative Director, who has been appointed since October 2017, said before the show that she was waiting or the perfect opportune moment to “do something very special” and then, she says, “the invitation [to Pitti] came”.

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She waited for the right time to start the show, disjoining guests between the upper terrace of the villa and the lower pathway into the well-defined and lavish gardens below. The narrative played out with 57 clean, monochromatic looks. Coats were influenced by previously seen nineties silhouettes, clearly; solaro is  reintroduced in a grown-up, sophisticated way in longline blazers and matching pants in shades of sky blue and lavender. Fits are boxy, diverse and exaggerated and intersected every now-and-then with skin-tight knitwear and capsule basic-wear. Her palette consisted of classic monochrome as well as sherbet shades in tangy orange, deep duck-egg blue and dusty pink and rose, a poetic departure from chaos.

The show’s denouement was marked by Waight Keller’s reunification with sharp tailoring, which made up 30 of the looks on display. Light, airy and crisp fabrics give the collection an urban and new appeal, a move which will help Givenchy tap into the millennial and Gen-Z spend. Waight Keller is responsible for developing Givenchy’s menswear both creatively and commercially. It comes at a time when the house’s parent company LVMH continues to expand into the men’s market with other brands including Celine. For Givenchy, bringing its refined French style to the Italian-based trade show will help establish its men’s collection, separate to that of its captivating womenswear.

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In some instances, jackets were worn over bare skin and in others, full suits are given full attention with liquid-like windbreaker overcoats, adding a dramatic nuance to a classic silhouette. Sporty influences were present too in the form of athleisure outwear and a first-time collaboration with runner label Onitsuka Tiger. Spectators are given a burst of PVC and androgyny - cementing the collection’s de facto genderless feel - before traversing back to a clean, sartorial palette.

Perhaps it was the romanticism of the setting sun over the beautiful rolling hills of Florence, but Clare Waight Keller created a visceral thrill, one that will project Givenchy’s menswear at the fore.

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Niamh O'Donoghue