The Englishwoman and her love of gardens are inseparable. Clare Waight Keller’s spring haute couture collection for Givenchy was rooted in her recollections of visiting the garden rooms planted at Sissinghurst House by Vita Sackville-West, and by reading the passionate love letters between Vita and Virginia Woolf. “It’s one of the most romantic places in England. I’m quite obsessed by the place,” Waight Keller said.
Famously, it was her involvement with Vita, and dreaming through the Elizabethan history of the Sackville-West family house that inspired Woolf to write her time- and gender-traversing novel Orlando. (Which, by the by, is the only literary reference in these identity-exploring times which is putting the L into LGBTQIA+ fashion representation.)
Hence: the coordinates Waight Keller used to map out a poetic collection that encapsulated her own strengths in tailoring—her white trouser suits and narrow coats—and the summer-garden colors and swirling 3-d petal-forms of dresses. But it was also, Waight Keller said, “my own love letter to Hubert de Givenchy, because I went into the archive for this collection, and looked into the history of the house from the very beginning.” Photographs of the pristine flowered-lace gowns he made in the era he was designing for Audrey Hepburn were pinned to her inspiration board. Hubert, as it happens, was dedicated to garden design, too.