Givenchy draws inspiration from South Korea for first fully-fledged menswear collection
What do Florence, Queen Victoria and South Korean street style all have in common? The new menswear collection from Givenchy, of course
Clare Waight Keller, artistic director for Givenchy, has been working hard to mould the company in her image since taking over in 2017, creating ferocious womenswear that has drawn universal praise.
In May 2018, she took that to another level, when she created the wedding dress for Meghan Markle. Watched by 1.9 billion people, the royal wedding turned Givenchy into a household name.
Now with a wider audience at her fingertips, Waight Keller has designed her first-ever fully fledged men’s collection, unveiled during the annual menswear event, Pitti Uomo, in Florence.
For the show, she chose the gardens of the grand Villa Palmieri. Given that Florence is awash with buildings drenched in history, this was a particularly interesting choice, especially since in the 1880s and 1890s, it became a favourite of British monarch Queen Victoria, who used to visit as a guest of then-owner, the Earl of Crawford.
Although slight, this royal connection is clearly important to Waight Keller. And given her role in the last great royal wedding, who can blame her for wanting to cement the link further?
For inspiration for the collection itself, Waight Keller didn’t stay in Europe, but instead shifted focus to South Korea, and its dandyish menswear scene. Slim-cut, almost foppish, men’s fashion in Seoul is serious business, where slick monochromes are king, and where even street style looks immaculately pulled together.
The vast oversizing of American hip-hop has its audience here, but as a sanitised, altogether better-fitting version. With a strong bent towards minimalism, South Korea street culture first crept into the global view a few years ago courtesy of Gangnam Style, the infuriatingly catchy song by Psy, which was a first inkling for many that South Korea even had its own fashion and music scenes.
Since then Korean pop (K-pop) has exploded, introducing a never-ending stream of boy bands to a global audience. The most famous is BTS, who have segued from hip-hop wannabes to sharp-suited fashionistas over their career. Their style is closely watched on Twitter, with comparisons often drawn to anther popular and well-dressed boy band-ite: Harry Styles.
Into this immaculate world Waight Keller has stepped, with a show entitled Nouveau Glitch, which opened with an impeccable three-button lilac suit, worn under a matching knee-length tailored coat. This was followed by white sequined trousers, technical sports tops (slim fitting, naturally) and a heavy infusion of slick minimalism, cutting-edge fabrics and sharp silhouettes. A few female models were dressed in men’s suits, too, while more men breezed by with flowing neckties and slim-cut jackets, or voluminous box-cut coats.
An ankle-length raincoat gleamed with metallic blue, while many trousers halted short of the ankle, to better show off the specially commissioned trainers created in collaboration with 70-year-old Japanese cult brand Onitsuka Tiger. As a show, it was spectacular. As a taster of what we will all be wearing soon, it was a delight – perfectly mixing South Korean style with a more European eye.
Outside of Givenchy, of course, the names of Byungmun Seo, Songzio, Kim Seo Ryong and 87mm may not yet be familiar, but take heed, because these South Korean menswear designers are going to be hugely influential in how we all dress. Now that’s Gangnam style.
Updated: June 22, 2019 08:54 AM