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Givenchy brings whimsical haute couture for Paris Couture Fashion Week

Leave it to Clare Waight Keller to cast a powerful spell that combines a cup of passion-filled history, a pinch of modern tenderness and a spoonful of masterful wizardry, all nearly palpable in the Givenchy Spring 2020 couture collection.

While most of the talk has been about that spectacular ending, where Kaia Gerber’s bridal look included a hat (or was it a canopy, as Vogue remarked?) the size of a small island in the Pacific Ocean, the collection as a whole presented a spectacularly-tailored love letter, on a couple of levels.

Waight Keller infused her attachment and adoration of the garden rooms planted at Sissinghurst Castle by Vita Sackville-West, as well as the passionate love letters between Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf.

“It’s one of the most romantic places in England,” Waight Keller told Vogue. “I’m quite obsessed by the place.”

The show was titled Une Lettre d’Amour—a love letter and Waight Keller aptly extracted the essence from Hubert de Givenchy’s archived collections, calling the attempt her “own love letter” to the French fashion house founder himself. The focus was on the 1950s umbrella hats that partially covered the shoulders, where this time around, the rounded shapes were significantly amplified and infused with the visually fragrant ball gowns and tops in colors of irises, marigolds and the like.

Photographs of the immaculate flower-lace gowns Givenchy created in the era he designed for Audrey Hepburn crammed Waight Keller’s inspiration board, as she ventured to build upon the original garden-inspired design fascination from the master himself.

Among the standouts was a neatly-tailored black, belted pantsuit, with a prickly halo-like structure of embroidery along the sleeves, resembling a string of perfectly placed tiny ice pellets landing on top of delicate miniature branches.

Finally, the vastly anticipated bridal segment of the show, brought forth a plentitude of romantic opulence, ruled by grander-than-life belts (seem throughout the collection), glorious ruffles and heaps of the classic and unbeatable Givenchy lace-work. And yes, the is-it-a-veil-is-it-a-tent-wing worn by Gerber was pure magic.