The collection skewed elegant and dressy, with dollops of glamour and grit.
Matthew M. Williams was in Tokyo about a month ago, and spent considerable time in a store in the Koenji district dedicated to vintage military clothing, “geeking out” over all the small, functional details and specialized designs. He also stocked up big time on basics after chancing upon a seller of deadstock T-shirts, whose fabric quality and fit were exceptional.
“People think clothing can be infinitely reproduced, but there are so many factors that make it special,” he said. “Fabric comes from the earth, so you can’t have the same fabric every single year. The yield of the raw materials is different, the weather is different. Machines break, factories close.”
In a similar vein, many people might adore ’90s concert T-shirts without realizing why. Williams explained that most were made via tubular knitting, a production technique employed for large quantities — and they fit different from T-shirts with side seams.
That T-shirt conversation speaks to Williams’ approach to collections, hinged more on evolving brand codes and carefully calibrated product design than storytelling or seasonal themes. It also illustrates that the things we like to wear everyday are often “just so hard to find,” he lamented.
It’s become a guiding ethos for him at Givenchy.
“I love to have things in the collection that are extreme and propose a new silhouette and a fashion message. But then I also love those timeless pieces: a simple black stiletto, a plain black T-shirt that fits really well, or a cashmere tracksuit that you can wear to the airport,” he explained. “At the end of the day, I want people to wear the clothes that I make. So it’s nice to have that balance in the collection.”
Williams was wearing an Army green T-shirt and silver Apple headphones when he dialed in on Zoom, but the night before he had donned a suit for a gala at the Pompidou Centre. No surprise: He asks a lot from the tailoring he wears and designs.
“It’s actually super hard to find something that suits our times — to walk that middle line of something that’s timeless and classic, but still doesn’t feel boring. That’s always the challenge,” he mused.
His pre-spring menswear walks that talk, and feels dressier and more voluptuous than usual, flecked with utility and industrial details, while keeping a toe in the luxury streetwear camp.
His women’s resort collection dovetails from his solid fall 2023 show last March, reprising the strong-shouldered, pinch-waisted tailoring and offering many terrific coats, severe-yet-feminine cocktail dresses and some cool jeans.
Williams often has a glance at the vast archives left by founder Hubert de Givenchy, occasionally reprising a silhouette and modernizing it via technique or fabric selection.
Givenchy had a strong run on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival and elsewhere lately, and his monastic black and white gowns, adorned with just the right amount of jewel or chain details, should keep the momentum going.
Givenchy by @matthewmwilliams