Who is Claire Waight Keller?

Who is Claire Waight Keller?

It was the most anticipated part of the royal wedding – forget the flowers and the sermons, what the new Duchess of Sussex would be wearing was the cause of speculation for months. Despite Brit pairing Ralph and Russo being front-runners, it was Clare Waight Keller at Givenchy who emerged as the designer behind Meghan Markle’s show-stopping white dress. She may be a legendary name in the fashion industry, but Waight Keller’s public profile has always been relatively low key – until now. Here’s everything you need to know about her…

She cut her teeth... at Calvin Klein in New York, progressing to work under Tom Ford at Gucci, designing women's ready-to-wear and accessories. 

She's only been at Givenchy a year... leaving her post as Creative Director at Chloe  a position she held for six years  in 2017 to take the Givenchy helm from now-Burberry Chief Creative Office, Ricardo Tisci. Responsible for transforming Chloe into the romantic, feminine fashion behemoth it is today (plus the creation of a stream of iconic handbags, from the Drew to the Faye), her appointment at the street-wear heavy, tailoring-focused Givenchy was a surprise to many. 

She's been given free reign to transform the brand... by its LVMH owners. "I was literally told, 'Do what you want'," she told Vogue. Her tenure at Givenchy so far has seen her revive the brand's couture arm, as well as returning to the label's more classic roots - 'The new generation very much understands Givenchy as what it is now, in this past decade [...] but then there is also a chicness that I think you come to a French brand for, and that I really love." Whilst Tisci largely rejected the brand's archives, Waight Keller spent days rooting through early designs, as well as reviving original prints and meeting with Hupert Givenchy himself. 

rex features

rex features

She didn’t even tell her husband… that she was designing Meghan’s dress. Such was the secrecy shrouding the big reveal, her architect partner Phillip Keller didn’t find out until the morning of the wedding, despite the design process beginning in January of this year.

She worked closely with Meghan…to create the perfect dress. She described the new Duchess’s vision as "modern" and "fresh", but also "right for the occasion", resulting in the boat neck and the full-bodied design crafted by a small team in ateliers in Paris. The trailing veil accompanying the dress also featured the 53 flowers of the Commonwealth countries in embroidered detail. She told ITV, "A lot of the work she's probably going to do in the future will be connection to the Commonwealth, and so that was something I really thought could be quite compelling.'

The team had to wash their hands every half an hour... whilst creating the dress. Natural oils risk tarnishing the white of the fabric, so to preserve the purity, regular hand washing was a priority in the atelier.


She was chosen for her status as a British designer... at a classic French design house. She told the Sunday Times: "I think she had seen my work and knew what I did. I think she loved the fact that I was a British designer and working in a house such as Givenchy." When the French brand was founded in 1952, the eponymous designer created dresses for Audrey Hepburn and Wallis Simpson among other glamorous names, confirming it as a label with an appropriate regal heritage. 

Fashion. Beauty. Culture. Life. Home
Delivered to your inbox, daily