In terms of savoir-faire, is there any difference between a man’s suit so peerlessly tailored in a couture atelier that there are no outseams on the trousers, and a windbreaker or puffer jacket that is garment dyed, producing uneven color variations that are unique and unpredictable?
Matthew M. Williams doesn’t seem to harbor any value hierarchy here, and thus gave equal footing to innovation in tailoring and sportswear for fall, demonstrating his range as a designer and yielding one of his best Givenchy men’s collections yet.
There’s nothing new about mashing up formal, classical menswear with clothes one might wear at home, or work, or for sports. Searching through his camera roll, Williams displayed a photo of painter Lucien Freud stepping out of his studio in a big tailored overcoat, his work sweats and beat-up boots.
“I feel like there’s a reality in that,” the designer said backstage, also flashing a photo of himself in a similar pose and a similar getup. For his research, Williams also studied photos of Miles Davis captured while the jazz legend was touring and living Japan in the 1980s and experimenting with “crazy fashion.”
Williams bookended his confident fall show with razor-sharp suits, and in between blended the tropes of American casualwear and workwear — plaids, sweats, utility pants, thermals, boiler suits — with more classic, dressier menswear archetypes.
He tossed handsome overcoats in herringbone, melton, tattered suede or camel cashmere over layered knits, droopy shorts and rubber boots. One could imagine a young boxer, a skater dude, a goth kid or a grunge musician running out of the house for some milk in winter and grabbing his dad’s best coat.
The pileups held one’s attention and sometimes truly stunned, as in a cream tuxedo jacket tossed over a version of what Rocky wore to triumphantly run up those Philadelphia steps. Implausible, but uniquely chic.
“A nice tension between things that are very traditionally luxe and a new sensibility — things that are normally not seen together,” Williams mused.
And so you had the weathered, lived-in textures Williams loves to give clothes more soul juxtaposed with couture wizardry, as in the vest and hoodie made of handwoven goose feathers.
Backstage, Williams was dressed in a version of his show look, a gray double-face jacket plopped over a leather utility vest, layered T-shirts and jeans.
“We call that like the bouncer fit — as in a club bouncer,” he said, flashing a knowing smile.