Clare Waight Keller, Meghan's wedding dress designer, leaves Givenchy

Priya Elan
Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA

Clare Waight Keller, who designed Meghan Markle’s wedding dress, has left Givenchy. The British-born designer, who had previously been the creative head at Pringle of Scotland and Chloe, became the first female leader of the French fashion house when she joined in 2017.

In an exit statement, Waight Keller said: “As the first woman to be the artistic director of this legendary maison, I feel honoured to have been given the opportunity to cherish its legacy and bring it new life.”

Succeeding a line of stellar design talent, such as John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Julien Macdonald and Riccardo Tisci, Waight Keller became known for bringing couture back to the house. “Under her creative leadership … the maison reconnected with the founding values of Hubert de Givenchy and his innate sense of elegance,” said Sidney Toledano, the head of the LVMH group, which owns Givenchy.

The duchess presents the British Designer of the Year award to Clare Waight Keller while wearing one of her Givenchy designs. Photograph: Joe Maher/BFC/Getty Images

Waight Keller’s relationship with the Duchess of Sussex extended beyond her wedding day: she dressed her for Ascot, the trooping of the colour ceremony and Remembrance Sunday. And when Waight Keller, 49, won the British Designer of the Year award in 2018, it was presented by Meghan in a surprise appearance while heavily pregnant and wearing a black, off-the shoulder Givenchy dress.

Waight Keller’s wedding dress for the duchess was simple: a sculptured, silk tulle dress that nodded to her former life as an actor and her future life as a member of the royal family. Visually, it seemed to nod to Audrey Hepburn’s wedding dress in Funny Face, a bit of old Hollywood glamour that was actually created by Hubert de Givenchy. At the time, Waight Keller said that its white veil was a “vision Meghan and I shared”. It was embroidered with all 53 flowers of the Commonwealth countries, plus flowers which represented Kensington Palace and Meghan’s home of California. Underlining the significance of the duchess choosing her to design her dress and the parallels between Meghan’s own change of life, Waight Keller said: “As a British designer at a Parisian haute couture house … I am extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished.”

On Friday, the 49-year-old posted a video on Instagram from her final show, the autumn/winter 2020 women’s show, held on 1 March at Paris fashion week with the caption: “With love, Clare.”

It is not known what Waight Keller’s next move will be. Due to the pandemic, Givenchy cancelled its women’s pre-spring collection and it will not make an autumn/winter 2020 couture collection.