Some of the best talent in fashion have passed through the couture hallways of Givenchy, including John Galliano and Alexander McQueen. And they've all offered their own interpretations of the storied couture house. With spring/summer 2021, that legacy has been passed on to newly appointed creative director Matthew M. Williams—a contemporary figure who's as known for his signature rollercoaster buckles as his dealings in merging streetwear tropes with tailoring.
Williams' new vision for Givenchy began with his own experiences of his new life in Paris. A photo of the 'love locks' that adorned many a bridge in the city (the Pont des Arts had its tonnes of locks removed in 2015 and the bridge has been lock-free since) informed his direction for the house, especially as symbols of a modern Givenchy. In true Williams form, the locks have inspired a series a charms and accessories. Finished in gold, the U-shaped Givenchy locks were designed in a couple of securing mechanisms, and in various sizes as evident on the collection's bags and accessories.
Yet it wasn't the only hardware that Williams has created to be part of Givenchy's new defining motifs. Individual flat and angular links have been moulded into 'G's, offering a hardy branding that's discreet, especially when linked up in the collection's selection of oversized necklaces and belts. The shape is most prominent as a single belt buckle, but still relatively subtle when compared to branded belt buckles by other luxury fashion houses. A more distinct G-shaped metallic link also made its debut as straps on bags, accessories as well as hardware details on ready-to-wear pieces.
Williams might not have brought over his rollercoaster buckle to Givenchy (how unbearably predictable would that have been?), but the aesthetic and vision is clear—this is love and romance for a new era.
Look and feel: There were a few references to the work of previous Givenchy creative directors. The horn-shaped caps (looks 37 and 41) and heels were an homage to McQueen's stint at the house, while the heightened sense of shoulders in tailoring was no doubt a nod to founder Hubert de Givenchy. As a collection, there was a good mix of tailoring—suits were paired almost exclusively with anything but a staid shirt—and plenty of fabric manipulations and treatments that the streetwear set would gravitate towards.
Yet, at the same time, the collection did feel a tad clinical and sterile. There were moments of romanticism and softness by way of draping (look 4) and modern interpretations of cummerbunds (looks 23 and 25), but the overall sentiment brought about by the heavy use of hardware and severe cuts, outshone those moments.
Favourite looks: Look 28's proposal of a full-beige number consisting of a military-cut shirt tucked into Williams' reworked cummerbund and paired seamlessly with slim-cut, notched trousers and padded sandals, felt extremely modern. And something we wished the collection featured more of. As compared to the rest of the collection, look 4 seemed out of place but the juxtaposition between the asymmetric top with the rigidity of the shoes and structured bag was quite stunning.
Favourite accessories: Without a doubt, the Givenchy locks are set to be one of the most coveted accessories come spring/summer 2021. Williams is about to do for Givenchy what he's managed to do with his signature rollercoaster buckles: make locks be an instinctive connection to the fashion house in the consciousness of fashion lovers.