Last year, Givenchy announced that Matthew Williams, Co-Founder and Designer behind 1017 Alyx 9SM, would become the new Creative Director of Givenchy. The fashion community was confused, yet intrigued by this move. The question of what Williams would bring to Givenchy begun. His hard, industrial aesthetic wasn’t something the Givenchy legacy was accustomed to. His background as Kanye West stylist was something that was loved, but not revered. What was once the home to Mcqueen, Givenchy has always maintained a level of sophistication. What would Williams do with that? How could he match the Givenchy legacy, while maintaining his own hardcore product? Something had to give in the fight for the product versus the Givenchy legacy. In his debut collection, the Givenchy legacy lost.
“Nevertheless, Williams had big shoes to fill and was added to the list of famous designers known for their Givenchy collection.”
In 2017, Claire Waight Keller took over the Givenchy legacy. Keller previously designed the bohemian, romantic brand Chloé. However, when Keller transitioned to Givenchy Menswear and Womenswear, she continued the legacy and Givenchy became the home of elegant suiting and red carpet looks. Keller was also renowned for bringing back the couture collection while championing minimalism in the house. What was the exact reason Givenchy picked Williams as her successor? That answer may never be known. Some speculate that it may be because of the “streetwear” direction fashion houses are going towards or his Dior collab. Nevertheless, Williams had big shoes to fill and was added to the list of famous designers known for their Givenchy collection. October 2020, he showed his debut collection and it fulfilled everyone’s expectations of being the complete opposite.
“However, when it comes to this collection, there is a disconnect in pushing his design aesthetic forward.”
Williams’ Givenchy Spring 2021 Ready-to-Wear collection is a visual experiment between the Sci-fi world and the luxurious elegance that we see a lot of the celebrities thrive in, like the Kardashians.
The fabrication spikes the curiosity of fashion experts. Demin jackets with “bedazzled” like hardware spring up a feeling of commonness. The collection also includes alligator square vests with button-up animal graphics. The most successful fabrication is the cracked, distressed, diaspora like alligator pants. These looks distract the viewer from luxurious well-tailored fabrics that would have been a pleasure to see more of.
Williams’ debut collection is visually chaotic. There is a simplicity that Givenchy has that Williams seems to lose grip on in this collection. Williams’ collection would be great for his own brand, Alyx. However, when it comes to this collection, there is a disconnect in pushing his design aesthetic forward.
“I’m not a person who designs in themes. It’s very much product-focused. A lot of it is what I would wear personally”
“I’m not a person who designs in themes. It’s very much product-focused,” says Williams in an interview with Vogue.com. “A lot of it is what I would wear personally.” This is a concept that is successful in thought versus reality. Hardware is a personal theme with Williams. In contrast to the elegance Givenchy has, hardware has a hard aesthetic. The elegance needed for the brand to thrive disappears.
To Williams’ credit, the shoes are a well-mended clash of elegance and his personal aesthetic. The alligator loafers and three-prong heels is a successful take on Williams’ version of elegance. Williams released this collection on Oct. 4th. However, his recent social media campaign is what has the industry talking.
The celebrity social media campaign backfired
The wonder left in these looks were taken away once worn by celebrities. Williams gave different celebrities from all walks of life his debut collection to “interpret” in their own way. Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Kendell Jenner and Travis Scott are only some of the names that can be seen in this debut collection. Each look fits the celebrity perfectly. From Kylie to Kim, each person makes the garment fit them. Kylies’ signature glam is present in her look. While Kendall is shy and subtle in her Givenchy look.
We’ve seen this celebrity social media campaign before. However, the concept of not having an overall theme backfires. Now, there is no clear Givenchy customer. Each person’s style and interpretation look so different that the essence of who Givenchy is does not exist. It feels like a look into the celebrity closet, which may have the point, but as a social media marketing campaign, nothing draws it back to the brand. When giving celebrities the chance to “interpret” a collection, there has to be a factor that sends their followers back to the brand. If it’s not recognizable, it’s not successful.
As the Givenchy legacy grows with Williams, his collections will hopefully tell us who his Givenchy person is.
Fashion experts were spot on with describing this debut collection. It’s a completely different look from what we saw from Claire Waight Keller, what inspired us from Alexander Mcqueen, what we remember from Ricardo Tisci and how we fell in love with the origins of Hubert De Givenchy. As the Givenchy legacy grows with Williams, his collections will hopefully tell us who his Givenchy person is.