Set on the volcanic island of Stromboli, Southern Italy, we’re thrown into a scene which wouldn’t look out of place in the Star Wars universe with jagged rock-forms, endless desert plains and large mountains – all of this comes accompanied by dramatic, unnerving audio backing in a minute-long introduction to the show. A model is spotted walking across the picturesque scene, and the unsettling music is sidelined for a warmer stringset with some heavy bass and real rock-and-roll undertones through the percussion. This chop-and-change of the music occurs frequently throughout the film, with each location on the beautiful island showcasing a handful of looks, building up to a loud crescendo and then fading off into silence. Rinse and repeat. We move from rock and roll to country-esque chimes of a string instrument, trance-like segments with voices whispering into our ears and then back into dramatic vocals. Each musical rendition is paired with the visuals flawlessly; volcanic eruptions, ethereal sunsets and cactus-laden mountain tops are enhanced by the incredible score made by VOWWS and Gerry Hemingway
This is one part of the “digital era” of fashion shows that I’ll certainly miss – the almost limitless room for visual and sonic experiences makes for such incredible shows that we’d never get to witness had we been sat in a gaudy showroom in Paris.
In terms of garmenture, the offering is pumped full of Alyx’s characteristic design sensibilities, combining artisanal techniques with new-age innovations. The whimsical, playful leather pieces and abundance of structured cotton make for such a natural feel – especially so on the volcanic beaches featured in the film – while we also see Williams refine, develop and evolve the industrial feeling from previous collections, interweaving these two aesthetics seamlessly. Whether this is the product of organic personal development through the pandemic’s challenging timeline for the Givenchy front man, or a more planned out step forward for Alyx is a question that remains unanswered, but the evolution is distinct and certainly positive. The embrace of artisanal practices is definitive, characterised by a series of dresses adorned with thousands of glass tube beads that are available to order (albeit for a five-figure price) while we also see whispers of branding more akin to Alyx’s streetwear endeavors through metal detailing incorporated in many designs.
On balance, the Alyx SS22 collection arrives as a concise, well thought out climax to Paris Fashion Week, with Matthew Williams pulling no punches on apparel and, typically, not skipping a beat with the accompanying short film either. I hope to see this flavour transcend the digital showcases that Coronavirus has made normality, and become a part of Alyx’s lookbooks or physical shows that are far too often a industrial setting lacking real personality – the natural power at play in the setting enhances the themes presented in Williams’ creations too well for it to be cast away in seasons to come.