At Matthew M. Williams’ Givenchy, ‘Hardware’ is key. The Lover’s Lock is a unisex object of utility, decoration, commitment and emotion; a sincere yet playful symbol of Paris – it nods to the lost locks of Le Pont des Arts – it is an object punctuated throughout this initial collection as both decoration and fastenings. It also points to Williams’ commitment to the world of Givenchy in this first proposal as the house’s Creative Director.
The Spring-Summer ‘21 collection explores Givenchy in the form of a stream of consciousness for Williams and is a ‘sampler’ of what is to come. There is a sense of celebration, of the people who have led Williams here and those he wants to wear the clothes.
From Hubert de Givenchy’s swathes of looped drapery, lighter-than-air transparencies, linear necklines and ‘Jour’ open backs, to the McQueen horn, reborn; both the classical and radical contrasts of Givenchy are embraced and shown to have always been part of the house’s history in the collection.
There is a notion of evolution, both lighthearted and serious, in this play of elements past and present. From the Tryp-toe shoe and stockings, the Horn-heel and hat together with a further examination of the Antigona bag, each is a play on and development of existing objects in the archive. They are joined by the new unisex Cut-out bag in its many iterations, as well as the G chains, objects that are destined to add to the history of the house and are interspersed throughout.
Williams’ signature technical material experimentation is balanced by the traditional, natural and opulent. From the use of a cotton Ottoman for both genders in outerwear, technical taffeta in tailoring and structured Punto di Milano jersey to evoke more pure forms in dressmaking, tradition is respected yet refined and re-contextualised.
The study of casual archetypes continues throughout the collection, including new technical coatings of denim in both paint and resin, work that is as labor-intensive as the collection’s more traditional embroideries. It is a sign of Williams’ Californian sensibility transplanted to Europe that he approaches the two sides with equal aplomb and rigor, both classicism and subversion, with a sense of ease and respect for the humanity of the wearer infusing all.