Meghan's wedding dress designer Clare Waight Keller leaves Givenchy

Meghan Markle’s wedding dress designer Clare Waight Keller leaves Givenchy after three years as artistic director – having become the first ever woman to head up the couture brand

  • Clare, 49, is stepping down from her role at the end of her initial three-year contract, according to WWD 
  • During the past three years, she has been one of Meghan’s go-to designers 
  • The former actress, 38, chose Clare to design the dress she wore when she married Prince Harry in May 2018
  • She’s worn a number of Clare’s Givenchy designs since then, including on several very prominent outings, such as her 2018 trip to Ascot with the Queen
  • In December of that year, a pregnant Meghan made a surprise appearance at the British Fashion Awards to award Clare British Womenswear Designer of the Year 
  • Clare described her time at Givenchy as being ‘one of the highlights of her professional journey’ in a statement about her decision to step down 
  • In January, the designer received mixed public reviews for a wedding dress design modeled by Kaia Gerber during the brand’s 2020 haute couture show 

Meghan Markle’s wedding dress designer Clare Waight Keller has announced she is leaving Givenchy after three years as artistic director. 

The 49-year-old, who was the first ever woman to head up the couture designer label, has risen to even greater prominence outside of the fashion industry over the past few years, during which she has become one of Meghan’s most-worn designers. 

But it was the former actress’s wedding dress that truly made Clare a household name, after Meghan tied the knot with Prince Harry in May 2018 in front of the world while wearing one of the British designer’s creations. 

The end of an era: Clare Waight Keller, the woman who designed Meghan Markle’s wedding dress, has announced that she is leaving her role at the head of Givenchy after three years 

Moving on: The 49-year-old, who became the first woman to helm the couture French fashion label in 2017, confirmed the news of her departure on Friday 

Since then, 38-year-old Meghan has worn a number of Clare’s Givenchy designs – turning to the label to dress her for many prominent engagements, including her June 2018 outing at Ascot alongside the Queen. 

In December 2018, Meghan made clear how close the two women had become when she made a surprise appearance at the British Fashion Awards, where she presented Clare with the prestigious British Womenswear Designer of the Year award. 

The Duchess of Sussex, who was pregnant with her son Archie at the time, looked stunning in a one-shoulder Givenchy gown, which showed off her bump to full effect.    

While on stage, Meghan opened up about her very personal connection to fashion, noting ‘we have a deep connection to what we wear’. 

‘Sometimes it’s deeply personal, sometimes it’s emotional,’ she went on, before praising Clare’s ‘kindness’ and the ‘values’.  

Once on stage, the designer was just as complimentary about the former royal, saying: ‘This woman is so amazing. I got to know Meghan on such a personal level. 

‘To have someone like that trust you on such a personal moment in their life… I can’t thank you enough because it was the most beautiful moment.’ 

According to WWD, which broke the news of Clare’s departure, her decision to step down comes at the end of her initial three-year contract, and follows the recent debut of her final collection for the brand, which was shown on the runways at Paris Fashion Week on March 1, shortly before the coronavirus outbreak shut down much of Europe. 

The show, which featured superstar model Kaia Gerber, daughter of supermodel Cindy Crawford, received much positive feedback from critics – although she faced some mixed public reviews in January when she debuted a new wedding dress design at Paris Couture Week. 

The majority of style lovers were blown away with the design, which was modeled by Kaia, with one gushing: ‘Such a beautiful moment but I don’t know what to say.’ 

Others dubbed it ‘perfection’ and stunning’. 

However other style fans were less impressed and complained it made even lithe Kaia look ‘huge’. 

Clare did not address her reasons for exiting the brand while making a statement about her departure, which was given to WWD, instead simply saying that her time at Givenchy has been ‘one of the highlights’ of her career.      

‘Focusing on a world based on haute couture has been one of the highlights of my professional journey,’ Clare, who was born in Birmingham, said. 

Special: Meghan’s dress is said to have cost around $250,000, and featured a stunning 15ft veil that was embroidered with 53 flowers of the Commonwealth

‘I have shared so many incredible moments with the brilliant Givenchy ateliers and design teams: Your exceptional talent and dedication will forever remain in my memories. 

‘My heartfelt thanks go out to each of the unsung heroes and heroines behind the scenes, for their contribution from product to communications and retail, and every global team member, partner and supplier in between.’ 

Clare, who did not give any hints as to what her next steps will be, began her career as a stylist for Calvin Klein in New York City, before joining Ralph Lauren. 

In 2000, she was hired by Tom Ford for a role at Gucci, where she was responsible for women’s ready-to-wear and accessories, a position that she held for four years. 

A year later, she moved to Pringle of Scotland, where – her Givenchy bio notes – she ‘redefined the House’s style and knitwear heritage’, earning the title of Designer of the Year at the Scottish Fashion Awards in 2007. 

In 2011, she moved to Paris in order to take on the position of creative director at Chloe, a role that truly helped to define her career, while cementing her status as one of the world’s most sought-after designers. 

Take a bow: Clare’s final collection for the brand was the fall/winter 2020 line, which was debuted on the runway at Paris Fashion Week in March, when Kaia Gerber stole the show

Awkward: Two months earlier, Clare debuted this wedding dress design at Paris Couture Fashion Week. The design received mixed reviews from the public  

Controversial: Some people praised the ‘stunning’ design, while others were less complimentary about Clare’s creation  

She moved to Givenchy in 2017, and since then she has amassed a legion of celebrity fans, including Ariana Grande and Gal Gadot. 

One year after joining the brand, Clare was chosen by Meghan to design her wedding dress – in what many saw as a rather surprising decision on the part of the Duchess of Sussex. 

The designer behind the dress remained a closely-guarded secret until the day of the ceremony, when royal fans around the world were treated to their first glimpse at the beautiful bride – and her stunning silk gown, which left Prince Harry in tears when he first saw his future wife. 

An emotional Harry told his bride ‘you look amazing’ after she wafted down the aisle in the classic silk gown in pure white, with a 15ft veil embroidered with flowers of the Commonwealth.

The bespoke creation is estimated to have cost $250,000, including $97,000 for custom-made fabric and $5,000 for fittings. 

The veil was made from silk tulle with a trim of hand-embroidered flowers in silk threads and organza, while the look was completed by a Cartier bracelet and earrings and a Queen Mary diamond bandeau tiara, loaned to her by the Queen. 

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