- SARAH MOWER
Givenchy -- SPRING 2023 MENSWEAR
As a creative director, Matthew Williams puts his faith in absorbing what the men around him are wearing, affirming it and reflecting it back—slicked up and minimalized and heavy with metal hardware. “You know, I think everything about the brand is grounded in reality. I could see this guy, how he looks, existing on the street. And for me, that's a really modern approach to fashion.”
Presumably, there’s a fanbase that sees Williams walking on water because of the way he resists being drawn into fashion-y narrative-speak and just gets down with upgrading and glamorizing generic dress codes: easy to wear cargo-derivatives; tight, sexy motorcycle pants; tracksuits. All inspired, as he put it, by “different people that are around me, musicians, friends. Elements of, like, Melrose and California, where I spent time as a kid and I now take my son to shop. It’s what I observe of those communities, where it’s just going through my own personal filter.”
Williams is doubtless idolized, too, for his loyal continuation of the declarative Givenchy branded logo men’s business that Riccardo Tisci established so successfully for the house in the years before he left in 2017. Before we get too snobby about this, let’s not overlook the fact that the snobbiest of houses are also up to exactly the same thing now. In the year 2022 the giant logo is stamped on practically every garment and accessory being sold by high fashion companies from Prada to Balenciaga on through. In these peak-logo times, the state of play in this inter-brand contest seems to to be finding novel anatomical niches upon which to place the things.
Matthew Williams started out with writing GIVENCHY in black and white across headbands attached to torso-hugging turtlenecks which had grown up to form demi-face masks. First of all, they’d appeared slung around necks like bandanas or perhaps blindfolds. In any case, they were the at first unnoticed (but presumably very saleable) garnish in the necklines of a pair of lavishly-tooled leather jackets, emblazoned with the brand name and geometric double G logo.
Mid-show, when it got to tracksuits, he translated the familiar shape of the Everlast boxing type into the Givenchy logo. Even on a black, Goth-y, oversized black sweatshirt, the apparently hacked-off hem was seen to be looped up and intricately inset with appliqued Gs. “Why so many logos?“ queried a journalist after the show. “Because it’s been the same for 70 years,” smiled Williams. “And I love wearing it.”
What can “Givenchy” mean beyond the lettering, though? As a designer with a strong reputation for inventing metal accessories, it made complete sense to launch men’s jewelry with this collection: necklaces, padlock pendants, earrings. He also slung bling on unmissable low-riding Western-style belts: absolutely bound to fly with his fans.
Perhaps this really was a more personal and autobiographical collection than Williams usually admits to. Five or six of the models who were walking in the show—well, striding through a conceptual pool of white water—had doppelganger Matthew Williams buzz-cuts. When he paddled out to give a finale wave, wearing black cargo pants and a tight black t-shirt, he was almost physically indistinguishable from the rest of his crew. Which had to be his final point about being just one of the guys he thinks about designing for.