All eyes were on Givenchy this PFW, as Matthew M. Williams showed his first live collection as creative director of the iconic maison. The show was vast – models walked under huge white light structures, set to the sounds of Young Thug, who recorded a custom soundtrack for the show which demanded an arena setting. This all worked to make Givenchy’s return to in-person showings a dramatic, all-encompassing experience; one Williams wanted to be “remarkably immersive and special”.
Despite the arena setting, or perhaps because of it, every detail in the collection was amplified. Layers of ruffles were visible from the back rows, whilst rigid and experimental structure took precedence. In keeping with the soundtrack and setting, the garments were bold, vast and transcended old and new Givenchy. “I wanted to build on the tradition of Givenchy’s history while also really looking towards the future”, Williams said of the collection. This sentiment was expressed through the intense contrasts that ran through the collection: light and dark, utilitarian and soft, construction and layering.
Speaking about his SS22 offering, Williams said that “the pieces are really, really worked and complex”. In many ways, the collection presents itself as a prequel to the world of couture: Givenchy are set to show their debut couture collection in January 2022, and the considerations of this new venture were evident within the experimental silhouettes seen on the runway this week. Some of the clearest examples of this came in the form of knee-high clog boots, or hip-jutting corsets which were partially deconstructed.
Williams also centred collaboration in this collection, to infuse it with a new energy. He called upon New York artist Josh Smith, who’s abstract paintings were reworked through Givenchy texture: appearing on jeans and ripped leggings. Revolving around contrasts, these street style pieces were offset with delicate Broderie Anglaise, tulle and transparent garments, which worked to add diversity and detail to the range. Intricate tooling, “basket woven” leatherwork and macramé further worked to evoke the archival, historical flair of Monsieur de Givenchy.
Another major element of the collection were the accessories: milk-carton clutches appeared alongside basketball and pumpkin bags, which were as playful as they were topical, taking over 20 artisans to complete. Perhaps the best accessory though, was the Kenny bag – debuted by Kendall Jenner at the Met earlier in September.
In a show defined by contrasts, the collection was a confident and comprehensive offering from Matthew M. Williams, and served the brand well for their upcoming endeavours into couture. Watch the full show below.