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The renowned house of Givenchy held its first physical runway show under creative director Matthew M. Williams since the California native and streetwear-known designer started helming the fashion house in June 2020. Williams has turned around the sartorial storytelling that Givenchy is known for and that his predecessor was known for, creating modern, edgy collections intended to touch humanity. Filled with streetwear influences and punk ceramic-art techniques — Illinois-born Williams grew up in Southern California and was drawn to skateboard culture from an early age — the spring summer 2022 Givenchy collection, presented at Paris’ La Defense Arena and done in collaboration with American artist Josh Smith, is unique to the house.
Entering the arena there was a straight line of men serving Givenchy black lemonade. Set in an egg shape with a circular sculptured shape hanging from the ceiling, the white floored runway and overall ambience put arriving attendees — who included such celebrities as Tommy Dorfman, Tyga and Offset — in an eager mood to see what Williams was going to unpack for his first in-real-life show. The music selections for the runway soundtrack were by Atlanta native Young Thug, a favorite rapper of Williams’ and featured unreleased material and not-yet-heard tracks from his upcoming album, Punk, that will be released on Oct. 15.
“For the spring-summer 2022 collection, I wanted to build on the tradition of Givenchy’s history while also really looking towards the future,” said Williams, in house notes. “To do this I worked with people I admire across different disciplines who have truly unique perspectives including the artist Josh Smith, whose iconic work is incorporated throughout the collection, and the musician Young Thug, who created the entire score for the show. The collaboration and this collection offer people a remarkably immersive and special experience.”
Williams’ aesthetic for the Parisian house been a modern one and deciding to work with Smith, who is known for his ceramic sculptures and colorful reaper paintings, was a breath of fresh air and inspiration for the creative director. “Matt showed up in my studio and we started cooking together. We made some delicious things. We burnt some stuff and that tasted good too. Matt took a to-go bag back to Paris and shared all of this with his sharp creative team. This collection is a miracle. The sky is the limit. Thanks for taking a look,” said Smith in the show notes.
The collection had a lot more color than fashion goers are used to seeing in Williams’ design creations from reds and lavender to yellows, greens and orange. The use of jersey fabric gives a lot of movement to the pieces in the collection, an appreciated element to come out of the pandemic. But Williams was able to bridge classical looks with radical and practical silhouettes for both menswear and womenswear.
For men’s pants suits, Williams created long matching jackets, with the hem of the pants rising above the ankle. Slim leather and non-leather pants paired with long shirts and jackets fill the collection. Even Smith’s prints of grim reaper art are added onto shirts and pants. Colored moccasin-shaped platform shoes from bright yellow, green and blue are a part of the footwear that was shown. For the women’s looks, Williams and Smith have created deconstructed silhouettes, midriff pieces and lingerie-inspired shorts paired with thigh-long leggings.
The designer’s use of contrasting fabrics is a trend coming out of the SS22 shows. For his part, Williams bonded traditional masculine tailoring fabrics — think mohair wools, Napa leathers, cotton herringbones and Prince of Wales checks — to neoprene, giving them a sculptural form. Going into house archives, Williams took Hubert de Givenchy’s signature corsets and peplums and created shorts and minis.
Hollywood fans of Givenchy under Williams include Laura Dern, Kaia Gerber and Kylie Jenner, who has been seen wearing the label on date nights.
The foothold that streetwear has been able to make in the world of high fashion and Parisian houses is notable. “What Matt Williams has been able to do is amazing,” says fashion expert Fonzworth Bentley. “Williams, and others like Virgil Abloh [at Louis Vuitton] and Demna Gvasalia [at Balenciaga] run major fashion houses for the biggest brands all over the world today.”
Elsewhere in Paris over the last few days, the entertainment world had a presence on the runway.
For Balenciaga’s SS22 collection, Gvasalia partnered with Fox show The Simpsons on an animated short that saw Marge and Homer wearing the brand, while caricature versions of Kim Kardashian, Kanye West and Justin Bieber sat in the front row.
And Parisian house Lanvin partnered with DC Comics, with creative director Bruno Sialelli printing large images of Batman, Catwoman and Robin on men’s jackets and women’s silver party dresses. These comic collaborations seem to be Parisian houses’ way of saying it’s OK to have fun right now.
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