Matthew M. Williams just presented his first menswear collection for Givenchy in Paris. Filing into an all-white set, the staging consisted of a central, huge white cube, mysteriously shrouded in smoke. Surrounded by a catwalk partially submerged in water, the overall impression was of a futuristic, minimal castle – with the aquatic runway as its moat.
However, fast forward from the classical castle allusions and Givenchy’s SS23 was plunged firmly into the future, thanks to Williams’ crafted functional concerns. Whilst 1017 Alyx 9SM saw the designer delve deeper into technical streetwear and cuts last week in Milan, Givenchy’s SS23 cast a broader net: streetwear silhouettes appeared alongside severe tailoring, tracksuits next to three-piece suits.
Emerging from the smoke first were a series of heavy leather jackets – embossed with the Givenchy logo and brand spellout and G monogram. Then came a neon moment, with the winning formula of pink set against lime green. Balaclavas, cargo trousers and jumpers all got the neon treatment, contrasting with the all-white set that the models walked.
Here, Williams’ preoccupation with the sun, brightness and vibrance was evident: as the rays beat down on the models, they seemed to bounce off the pieces, already framed against a real-life studio background. Within this section, silver hardware detailing also shone: coming in the form of technical zips and closures, and bringing in further elements of the functionality that we saw in Alyx SS23.
In fact, the hardiness of the pieces was firmly signposted by the fact that the models were walking through water, too. Far from the delicate, highly breakable pieces that other luxury houses often produce as a showstopper, these were luxury clothes made to be worn, worn again, and survive the elements: trouser hems were soaked through, but retained shape, structure and colour. The shoes in the collection bore the same brunt, but held up equally as well – from mid-calf work boots to neon, TK-360 / TK-MX sneakers, it was clear that Williams’ Givenchy can be taken off the rack.
Accessories were equally as successful – oversized sunglasses wrapped around the models’ heads in a new style dubbed the ‘G-cut’, or were 3D printd. Balaclavas emulated T-shirts halfway through being pulled over heads in their silhouette. There was a clear streetwear influence, but there were also design codes pulled from luxury spheres – this collection was not made to be pinned down to a single genre.
In the more formal section, a standout look consisted of an oversized, boxy linen suit with two large rips over the knees. Elsewhere, heavy knits were torn and distressed at hemlines, and one bubblegum pink tracksuit, with a nostalgic GIVENCHY spellout, gave the iconic Babyphat / Camron look.
“Menswear was, quite naturally, the way I discovered fashion” Williams has said. “This show is a reflection of myself and the men who surround me, from my close friends to the artists who inspire my work. It’s a dialogue with the time and culture that shape the way men dress today and tomorrow.” Iconic all round.
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