After watching Matthew Williams’ second ready-to-wear show for Givenchy—his first in the traditional runway format—you’d probably get the hint that the designer likes music. Williams cut his teeth designing costumes for Lady Gaga, then working collaboratively with Kanye West, before launching his own label 1017-ALYX-9SM, beloved by celebrities like Drake and A$AP Rocky. Among his first jobs as the newly-minted creative director at Givenchy was dressing the Weeknd for his Superbowl performance.
So it’s no surprise that Williams was thinking about music when he was designing Fall 2021, which was unveiled at a 50,000 person stadium in Paris, usually reserved for the world’s biggest musical acts. “We actually chose the space prior to the confinement laws happening because of my connection to music,” he told the Financial Times ahead of the collections’ unveiling this morning. “Now, it actually feels so timely, the fact that you would never be able to have a space that vast that’s normally full of people completely empty and silent.”
Clothing-wise, the collection offered a souped-up take on the youth-focused, sex-laden aesthetic that has defined Williams’ career for the last 10 years. He was hired, in part, to give Givenchy strong brand DNA, and has shown a proclivity for the look perfected by Riccardo Tisci during his 12-year tenure at the brand, which ended in 2018. Gone are the hyper-feminine, romantic silhouettes of Williams’ direct predecessor, Claire Waight Keller—replaced with chunky silver hardware, lashings of patent leather, sheer logoed garments, and BDSM-style harnesses.
Highlights included the dramatic fur coats (faux, of course), slinky sheer slip dresses, and patchwork denim finished with paisley prints—but it was the accessories that really stole the show. Models (including major up-and-comer Meadow Walker, who opened with a global exclusive) stomped along a water-lined runway truly out-of-this-world chunky rubber platforms, others wore fuzzy faux fur baseball caps, knitted balaclavas, or three-part backpacks made of chic embossed leather.
All in all, the collection built on the bold and singular vision Williams is bringing to the storied French fashion house—it was an impressive, statement-making runway debut. A star, as they say, is born.