Debuting for a luxury fashion house during a global pandemic wasn't the best way to make a presence. It was no fault of newly minted creative director Matthew M. Williams' of course, but his sophomore effort for Givenchy made up for a rather lacklustre spring/summer 2021 lookbook.
The Givenchy autumn/winter 2021 runway presentation was more short film than an actual runway. It starts off with a dimly lit backstage scene metres above the main arena, focusing on the collection's plush coats. The spotlight then hits its mark on the opening look and the runway officially starts with a burst of high energy as models stomp across a water-laid stage. A bulk of the footwear were shaped to be armour-like and resulted in anything but slow and subtle movements—there's no way anyone could've walked quietly in those shoes.
Williams' appointment at Givenchy has no doubt come with great expectations; the same kind that's still being put on Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton, and Kim Jones at Dior Men and now Fendi. As part of the new streetwear-leaning guards at the helm of luxury fashion houses, Williams hasn't completely stripped Givenchy to its bare bones and rebuilt it. There were traces of his streetwear sensibilities (then again, with there being such a proliferation of streetwear nowadays, what exactly does that even entail?) but also combinations of what we've seen before from previous creative directors Riccardo Tisci and Clare Waight Keller.
There were enough tailoring and considered separates to appease both existing Givenchy clientele as well as fans of Williams' work. But what we're thankful for is that there didn't seem to be any obvious repetitions or callbacks to his own brand 1017 ALYX 9SM. Williams is only just starting and what he's shown so far is that he's no mere one-trick pony.
Look and feel: We doubt that there's any intention at all for the collection to feel rather sexy as a whole (despite the nipple-baring outfits on some womenswear looks) but it did come across as such. There was a sort of Tom Ford-esque quality that came through—sex appeal but not overtly so.
Textures played a major part in the collection. There were faux fur and shearling done in a dazzling array of ways, but most effectively as hoodies and mittens. The latter of which, underscored the collection's fashion-as-armour quality, that extended to the ornamental crowns done in paisley bandana prints as well as the thick-soled footwear of the collection. Protective yet at the same time, tactile.
Favourite looks: Look 9's simplicity (pretty much the simplest menswear look of the lot), especially as part of a collection that has quite a lot happening, was refreshing and showed that Williams was comfortable leaning towards both ends of the styling spectrum. Running along that same minimal-but-not thread was look 14's dressier variation that essentially included the addition of a blazer and Williams' defining accessory for Givenchy: the chain link necklace. There's also look 45 that we quite liked for its rather regal take on winter essentials, topped off by Givenchy autumn/winter 2021's literal crowning glory.
Favourite accessories: We'd have to go with the chain link necklaces of the collection, specifically the matte grey variations as seen on looks 53 and 57—packed quite a statement but nothing too over-the-top. The bandana bags (looks 4 and 37) require a closer look but we're curious to see how they function, especially with the chain straps that also seemed to be part of the bag.