FOR HIS first live experience since arriving at Givenchy in June 2020, Matthew M Williams tapped the American artist Josh Smith to co-design his latest collection. The result? An attitude-packed fusion of Williams’ trademark industrial aesthetic with colour, eruptive silhouettes and lavish couture touches.
Set in the Paris La Défense Arena, the largest indoor performance venue in Europe, on the outskirts of the French capital, to the soundtrack of an original score by Young Thug – with unreleased tunes from his upcoming album Punk — the collection debuted a softer side to the creative director’s utilitarian take on luxury, shaking up the codes of the storied fashion house.
Smith – an artist who made a name for himself in the early 2000s with a series of canvases depicting his own name – splashed his psychedelic Grim Reaper paintings across snug leather pieces, while his characteristic skeleton pumpkins littered the show’s experimental accessories.
“For the SS22 collection, I wanted to build on the tradition of Givenchy’s history while also really looking towards the future,” says Williams. “The collaboration and this collection offer people a remarkably immersive and special experience.”
Fans pining for more of Williams’ monochromatic glamour need not despair as there was plenty of the usual elaborate austerity on offer.
Corsets and peplums – drawn from founder Hubert de Givenchy’s archive – were the main design trope for women, embracing tight-fitting, cleanly sliced jackets, knitted minidresses and occasionally trimmed in Broderie Anglaise, which came delicately tinted and frayed.
The men’s looks were refreshingly no-nonsense, including buttery leathers, graphic-print jackets and rubbery raincoats.
The collection also introduced the House’s sumptuous new It-bag, the Kenny. First seen on Kendall Jenner at the Met Gala, the envy-inducing accessory is characterised by Williams’ signature hardware handles and Love Locks.
Bathed in the glow of a cinematic sun, Williams’ has hit his stride at Givenchy with this zeitgeist-surfing showcase, appearing more assured and in tune with the desires of his unwaveringly loyal clientele than ever before.