(Born 19 August 1970 in Birmingham, England) is a British stylist and fashion designer who is currently the artistic director of Givenchy.
Keller was born in Birmingham, England on 19 August 1970. She studied at Ravensbourne College of Art, where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in Fashion, followed by a master's degree at the Royal College of Art.
She started her career at Calvin Klein in New York as a stylist for the women's ready-to-wear line, then at Ralph Lauren, for the Purple man line. In 2000, she was hired by Tom Ford to join Gucci, responsible for women's ready-to-wear and accessories, until her departure in 2004. The following year, she became artistic director of Pringle of Scotland. In 2007, she received the Scottish Fashion Awards 'Designer of the Year' in the cashmere category. She resigned her position at Pringle of Scotland in 2011. In the same year she moved to Paris where she became the artistic director of Chloé. In 2017, Keller was appointed artistic director of haute couture and ready-to-wear for women and men at Givenchy. Replacing Riccardo Tisci, she was the first woman to hold the position at the company.
She designed the wedding dress which Meghan Markle wore for her wedding to Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, on 19 May 2018.
She had a prestigious fashion education
The designer had always been interested in fashion and her journey to being a designer was set out from childhood. She was born in Birmingham and her mother would hand-stitch her clothes.
"That’s one of my first memories: standing there and my mother saying, ‘Don’t move, don’t move, I’m going to pin you, don’t move!’" she told the Wall Street Journal. “Then, as my sister and I got older, we had to become her helpers. She hated how I pinned patterns because I’d make too much of a bubble in the fabric — little, subtle things that I didn’t realize at the time became second nature when I got to school. When they tell me now that something is labor-intensive, I’m like, Really?”
She has experience at some of the world's most well-known brands
Following her graduation in London, Waight Keller set her sights on New York, where throughout the '90s she went on to work for some of the world's most prestigious fashion labels. First up, she landed a job as a designer for Calvin Klein womenswear, before going on to work for the prestigious Purple Label at Ralph Lauren, where she cut her teeth working on men's tailoring, something that would come in very useful later in her career.
In 2000, Waight Keller worked as a senior designer under Tom Ford during his heyday at Gucci, a role that brought her back to England and had her designing alongside the likes of Christopher Bailey.
Five years later and she was ready for her first creative director position, at Pringle of Scotland. Here, she was credited with revamping the brand and turning it from a small Scottish knitwear company into a global, modern fashion label.
When she resigned in 2011, she was praised heavily for what she had done.
"Clare's unique understanding of knitwear and design talent allowed her to modernize the image of Pringle while remaining true to its heritage," Douglas Fang, a member of the family that owns Pringle, told WWD. "Clare will be greatly missed."
She revamped the Chloé girl
The designer moved to Paris to become creative director of Chloé in 2011, a position which she held for six years. In this role, the designer was following in the footsteps of renowned designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo and the house's founder, Gaby Aghion.
During her tenure at Chloé, Waight Keller was widely praised for her ability to make the brand wearable and extremely profitable by drawing on Aghion's easy and breezy bohemian aesthetic, but adding a touch of boyish charm. From the standout cult dresses and blouses to that famous tracksuit and the Drew handbag, Waight Keller helped Chloé to become the most profitable brand at Richemont, with an estimated €400 million in sales the year she left.
She is a working mother
When speaking about designing the royal wedding gown, Waight Keller explained that choosing someone who is a working mother was also "part of [Meghan's] story". The designer has three children – twin 15-year-old girls, Charlotte and Amelia and a six-year-old son named Harrison – with her architect husband Philip Keller.
"While the kids are at school, I’m flat-out at work," Waight Keller told W in 2015, when she was still creative director at Chloé. "But I come home and work vanishes as soon as I hit the door. Unless there’s something really urgent and pressing, there’s so much going on here that work isn’t in my head. I think that’s what’s really grounding about having a family: You don’t let the crazy fashion world take you over."
She is the first female artistic director of Givenchy
Last year, in a historic move, Waight Keller was appointed the first female artistic director of Givenchy in the house's 66-years past. At the time, the label said they had chosen her due to her compelling vision, her commitment to leadership and her ability to break the rules.
"It’s a big book. It’s 65 years of history to which she’ll be adding a very important new chapter," Givenchy chief executive officer Philippe Fortunato told WWD at the time of the hire. "She’s a very interesting balance between magic and logic, and I’m personally very, very excited to have her on board."