Luxury’s guillotine fell once more last Friday, leaving the pre-collection pictured here as the last gasp of the twenty-something run (including menswear and pre-) produced under Matthew M. Williams at Givenchy since June 2020. Speaking about the collections a few days before, Williams said: “It’s kind of the same story as always; in menswear making clothes for myself, clothes that I feel have a need to exist. Exploring the themes of silhouette and materials that I’ve been following since I arrived at Givenchy: garment dye, treating luxury and non-luxury material with sartorial technique.” Strong examples included windbreakers, half-zips, and work pants in garment-dyed washed silk. These were delivered within a signature mix of subtly defamiliarized tailoring archetypes and minimally-adorned but materially lush outerwear trophy pieces.
Another specialism of the Williams period has been true technicality and functional collaboration. Here that was evident via a new partnership with German company Bogs that “allowed us to produce a vulcanized shoe I’ve been wanting to do for a decade,” as well as a new hybrid shoe named the Nfnty incorporating a sole in Pebax, a material currently unused elsewhere in luxury. Under Williams, he offered as a footwear footnote, the development of Givenchy’s TK 360 shoe involved securing the first shoe patent in LVMH history.
Voyou bags aside, there was no overlap between men’s and womenswear, the latter of which edged onwards the spirit of contemporary flou Givenchy has been honing for the last few seasons. Lace, smokings, polka dots, Breton stripes, denim, bouclé, cocoon coats, and other Parisian pillars combined to create a cutely comprehensive French girl offer.
Givenchy’s CEO Renaud de Lesquan characterizes the house mission as “redesigning elegance.” This sounds straightforward but isn’t. Because unless you base your idea of elegance on the historic—which defies the notion of meaningful redesign, dooming you instead to endless repetition—it’s a highly elusive and inherently subjective (although undeniably French) bourgeois quality. That’s the challenge that awaits Givenchy’s next marquee name—palace intrigue places many in the frame—while Williams is left free to spend more time with his own baby, Alyx.