Clare Waight Keller is bringing her understated style aesthetic to the masses as she prepares to launch her new label Uniqlo: C on Friday, an ongoing collaboration with the Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo.
The 34-piece collection — which includes the British designer’s spin on the brand’s signature quilted outerwear, floaty two-tone pleated maxi skirts, knitted vests and cashmere jumpers along with the brand’s first-ever shoe collection — fits in with Uniqlo’s casual androgynous look but with Waight Keller’s feminine touch. It’s also her first foray back into the fashion world since leaving Givenchy in 2020.
"I am honored to have been asked to create a new label for Uniqlo. I have long appreciated its LifeWear design philosophy of technical innovation and functional authenticity,” Waight Keller said in a press statement. “I have always admired the Japanese aesthetic of subtlety, simplicity and detailed perfection, so to be able to work with the Uniqlo team to craft a new sensibility for my womenswear collection on such a global scale is a truly exciting opportunity.”
After leading the design team at Pringle of Scotland and Chloe, it was in her role as artistic director of Givenchy that she was approached by Prince Harry’s fiancée and asked to create a wedding dress fit for a modern royal.
“It was just the most incredible career-defining moment, one of the highest accolades,” she told The Times, adding: “I was really happy to be representing what I felt to be a new chapter in the royal family.”
In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, the designer revealed how she made sure a little "something blue" was incorporated into the minimalist gown, which featured hand-embroidered flowers representing each of the 53 countries of the Commonwealth.
“Meghan felt like she was bringing an element of each of those countries down the aisle with her. So that her new role, and that bridge to the new role, was captured in what she was wearing," Waight Keller said.
Meghan continued to work with the designer during her time as a member of the royal family. It was a cream wool cape dress designed by Waight Keller that the Duchess of Sussex wore on her first joint engagement with the late Queen Elizabeth in 2018.
“We worked together very closely,” the Birmingham-born designer told the Daily Telegraph, “constantly talking through details and accessories. I loved it – it wasn’t only building a relationship with someone but evolving their personal style.”
Meghan presented Waight Keller with her British Designer of the Year award at the British Fashion Awards in London in December 2018. Hugging her, the designer thanked the royal for trusting her with something so special.
“I got to know Meghan on such a personal level,” she said at the time. “To have someone like that trust you in an incredible moment in their life is something that is just the most unbelievable honor. I can’t thank you enough because it was the most beautiful moment.”
While the two are still friends, the designer has yet to be asked to create anything for Meghan’s more relaxed California lifestyle.
“She is much freer now to be herself and I think she’s done a great job of working out a new image,” said the Uniqlo designer, adding: “It’s not easy for any woman entering the royal family. They have to express their own point of view but also be extremely appropriate.”