BETWEEN MONUMENTS AND MUSIC
“In many ways, this collection is about a constant tension between two worlds. It’s about finding personal meaning in difficult circumstances; it’s about sincerity in what we do rather than strategy. We wanted to bring a sense of lived reality alongside precision, elegance and extravagance in the clothing and looks. Ultimately, fashion for us is a way of being, feeling and connecting rather than a game to be played. It’s almost like monumentalising the everyday, filling it with emotion – like music you can wear.”
Matthew M. Williams, Creative Director, Givenchy
In Williams’ Givenchy, there is a mix of lavishness and austerity, together with the imperfect beauty of humanity. It invokes the distinctly emotional side of the business of luxury and fashion – for both maker and wearer – something once again utilised and celebrated by Givenchy.
The nexus of utility and luxury, protection and comfort, is at the heart of this clothing, infused as it is with the isolation and poignancy of the past year. Yet at the same time, it is a collection that is at once monumental and intimate, giving the wearer presence and audaciousness, yet still with a sense of a person at its centre with a to-hell-with-it attitude. Ultimately, it is an offering that transcends troubled times.
Bridging the classical, radical and practical, the silhouettes for both men and women explore the tension between extravagance and discipline. Sensoriality and voluptuary prevail in the use of materials, particularly faux fur and real shearling – materials that almost swaddle the wearer, enveloping and cocooning. Volumes are explored through layering, quite purposefully emphasising a more exaggerated and monumental winter silhouette. Here, feelings of comfort and protection, ease and extravagance all come into play for the wearer. In contrast to this ‘macro’ line, there is the ‘micro’ – the tension explored between the two, often appearing in the same silhouette. Here, long, lean lines are contrasted against short, taut crops or expansive, voluminous, draperies and embroideries. Outerwear is oversized, yet tautness, discipline and rigour underpin all, particularly through the tailoring traditions of the Givenchy atelier. Strong shoulders and sleeves display an architectural approach to tailoring. At the same time, sculpted, fine knitwear emphasises freedom of movement and the liberation of the body, with particular concentration on the waist.
This tension of extremes continues in the collection’s accessories, where hoods, caps, gauntlets and gloves provide a sense of drama as well as armour. The signature motif of metal hardware as unisex decoration continues, featured most prominently in the monogrammed chains and locks of the 4G bag. The high, Marshmallow sole metamorphoses to become the foundation for a multiplicity of shoes in the collection, utilised for both men and women. At once monumental, playful, light and comfortable, footwear grounds as well as elevates the silhouettes – in both senses of the term – becoming at once alien and yet viable for the everyday.
Sincerity rather than strategy is vitally important for what Williams does. The supreme example of which is the role of music in the collection, here used as a further comforting and protective force of emotional resonance and connection. Words, appropriated and isolated from a variety of favourite songs, are cut-up and reformed into three-word phrases; the idea of the cut-up is itself a songwriting technique. These pieces of clothing and blankets add a further layer of connectivity through music.
This is the first of Matthew M. Williams’ Givenchy offerings to utilise the show format, adding to the sense of drama and monumentalism in the clothing, yet never neglecting its distinct intimacy and its eventual relationship with the wearer. With an original score by Robert Hood, one of the godfathers of minimal techno and a musician profoundly linked with the sound of Detroit, Williams’ commissioning displays his American heritage as well as a purposeful, emotional bridging and connecting of continents and cultures through sound.
As Robert Hood says of the commission and collaboration:
“It was exciting and challenging for me to produce the soundtrack for this endeavour. The phrase, ‘Organized Chaos,’ stood out in my mind upon talking with Givenchy’s team; I immediately began to imagine what that would sound like while keeping minimalism in mind. The manifestation is an instrumental narrative of art as it relates to Matthew’s vision of fashion. The verbal input, colour palettes and visuals of the space gave me the inspiration and drive for the rhythm of this project.”