It’s no secret that we live in the era of the rock star creative director, with each season heralding the debut of some remarkable young designer recently handed the helm of a major fashion house. For spring summer ’21, that hype was directed at Matthew Williams—founder of the cult-y streetwear label 1017 ALYX 9SM— and his debut for Givenchy.
Williams’ appointment was announced in June, following the departure of Clare Waight Keller in April—and it was immediately obviously that his vision for the brand would differ from his predecessor. Waight Keller, who came to Givenchy from Chloé in 2017, is perhaps best known for creating Meghan Markle’s wedding dress. The gown—classic, minimal, with a twist of modernity—encapsulates the style that defined her Givenchy tenure. Williams’ appointment was instead announced with the wiping of the @Givenchy grid, and a series of moody black and white pictures featuring the 34-year-old designer topless and tattooed.
But for those preempting an Hedi Slimane-esque revamping of the Givenchy brand, no such drastic overhaul took place. Williams’ first collection certainly featured nods to his personal aesthetic—chunky hardware in the form of locket charms, inspired by the love locks that populate bridges over the Seine, featured prominently as did super-streamlined silhouettes and embellished hoodies—but the clothes and accessories were largely updates on Givenchy house staples.
The Antigona bag—once as ubiquitous among the off-duty model set as Celine sunglasses and Saint Laurent ankle boots—was revamped in a shrunken size and gold croc finish. Demure capes were styled over sheer embellished dresses. Perfect black tailored trousers were topped off with super-modern knoted silk halter tops. Corsetting featured too, in a harness-style finish (harnesses are an 1017 ALYX 9SM signature) and a new handbag style, the ‘Cut-Out’, made of embossed leather and featuring a chunky chain strap, is likely to incite a frenzy once it becomes available next March.
If this is what we can come to expect from the house of Givenchy under Matthew Williams, the future looks rather bright.