A 50,000-seat concert venue. Dramatic UFO-worthy lighting. A custom score by Robert Hood, one of the founding fathers of minimal techno. Oh, and Bella Hadid and Adut Akech.
No wonder Matthew Williams didn’t hesitate when asked if his fall 2021 coed collection felt like his real Givenchy debut. “It does feel like that just because it’s a runway show,” he said during a preview at the brand’s showrooms on Avenue Montaigne, where larger-than-life runway photos lined a corridor. “Music has always been such a big backbone to my work and my inspiration for fashion, so I wanted to do the show in this arena.”
The filmed spectacle certainly brought to pulse-pounding life the industrial-strength brand of tough glamour he’s brought to Givenchy since arriving as creative director last June. (His first coed effort last October was a simple showroom unveiling, and look book drop.)
The Chicago-born designer, who worked with Kanye West and Lady Gaga earlier in his career, seemed more in his element designing clothes for the grand — albeit audience-less — venue.
His Givenchy hinges on modernist tailoring, meaty outerwear, sinuous dresses, luxed-up streetwear and attention-grabbing accessories, from faux fur mittens the size of boxing gloves to bulbous “extraterrestrial” foam shoes that kicked up quite a splash as models hurtled themselves across a vast, wet black floor. You couldn’t miss them, even from the cheap seats.
Williams doesn’t gloss over accessories, and tends to start his previews in the “hardware” section of the showroom,. His G-link chains are still supersized and done up in black or gold, while novelties this time included gold cube earrings, metal water bottles encased in embossed leather, and a set of four silver rings connected by a delicate chain.
The leather goods room sheltered Williams’ new “modular” backpack, inspired by one used by firefighters, to which various hardware-laden components can be added, including those metal decanters. These multifaceted carryalls, along with knitted cowls with soft Batman ears, gave many of the men’s looks a survivalist edge. More whimsical were his bandana “crowns” that can be layered on top of other hats.
As for the clothes, Williams said a photo of artist Louise Bourgeois relaxing in a chair wearing a fur coat sparked an idea: “I was thinking about this idea of comfort and luxury in the same context,” he said.
He pumped up his women’s faux furs into demonstrative chubbies, riddled his short shearling jackets with grommets and lined up film-strip size sequins on a gown in a dégradé from black to honey. Williams seems less confident with flou than with tailoring, but perhaps that will change once he finally turns his hands to couture.
The men’s wear was more assured across the board, from luxurious duvet-like parkas with shearling collars to jeans and hoodies and jeans done up in rustic Japanese “boro” patchworks.
The common denominator was oomph.