- ANDERS CHRISTIAN MADSEN
5 Things To Know About Givenchy’s Streetwear-Centric AW22 Show
Vogue fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen delivers five things to know about the Givenchy autumn/winter 2022 show, which saw Matthew M. Williams translate the Givenchy archives into haute streetwear.
The set was huge
Because Matthew M. Williams started his Givenchy career at the brink of the pandemic and didn’t have a show until last season, it has felt important for the designer to make a theatrical statement. His second live orchestration took place in Paris’ La Défense arena where he had erected a huge cross-shaped catwalk construction surrounded by four stadium-type LED lights. Through a glass floor, you could see models walking through its corridors before they climbed the stairs and walked the runway. It was like the Superbowl had come to fashion week on a Sunday night. “It’s a language of light that we’ve been building for the show. It’s about coming to an arena for me. That’s the all-encompassing mood,” Williams said during a preview.
Williams translated the Givenchy archives into streetwear
Williams – who used to work as a creative director for the music industry – deals in the kind of luxe streetwear we now associate with showbiz. That idea was exemplified in a collection that lionised T-shirts, sweatshirts and workwear through intricate deconstruction and elevated surface decoration. Williams had mined the Givenchy archives for adornment techniques – delicate embroideries, beading techniques, and things like the construction of shoulder straps – which he translated into the pedestrian garments through which he expresses himself. Jeans were encrusted with pearls, little dresses were covered in floral feather embroideries, and T-shirts were cut from the hem in a way that resembled suspender belts.
It was about everyday clothing
“I’m interested in making clothes that people wear, and that ease of it, so I guess it was finding those archetypes for today that I found interesting,” Williams said. For all its surface decoration, his collection was founded in a very everyday fashion language – basics, if you will – which lived up to the premise he had set himself. “I’m exploring graphics in a new way and putting the same kind of care into the graphics as I would an amazing dress,” he explained, accentuating the value he gives to the elements of the streetwear wardrobe from a high-fashion perspective. “I love clothing, so every single garment I’m putting my all into.”
It made a case for balaclavas and gloves
On the accessories front, Williams made his own proposal for the balaclavas that have taken this season’s runways by storm, and paired them with fabric gloves. He was wearing a pair backstage, and said they had become something of a habit for him lately. “There’s always an element of protection [to my collections]. With Covid, people have been wearing masks so I’ve been exploring these balaclavas and gloves for that reason. It’s almost a new archetype people are using in their daily lives. In America, a lot of the kids of friends I know wear them.” His observations went hand-in-hand with the continued mask-wearing you see at fashion week. Even though we’re not obliged to wear them anymore, many are finding comfort in keeping the mask on, almost like a pair of sunglasses.
Williams said his work is about lightness
If some get a hardness from Williams’s industrial fashion language, he said that’s never the intention. “I’m not a gloomy person at all. I’m a very positive person,” he smiled. The throbbing soundtrack that supported his enormous stage, for instance, was meant as an expression of lightness. “I find it beautiful. Don’t you hear all the chimes in it? We all come from different backgrounds and have different reactions to things. The music I chose, I wanted it to feel light, actually.”