Following his friends Kim Jones at Dior Men and Virgil Abloh at men’s Louis Vuitton, 34-year-old Matthew Williams signed with conglomerate LVMH – on June 15, the company announced that the designer had been appointed Creative Director of Givenchy. He replaced Claire Waite Keller, who left the brand in April after three years of collaboration.
Only time will tell what stylistic direction Williams will choose for Givenchy, known for his experiments at the intersection of streetwear and luxury. One thing is clear: it is unlikely that these will be lush dresses in the style of Audrey Hepburn, which Waite Keller resurrected from the archives of Hubert de Givenchy.
Here are six facts about Givenchy’s new creative director that will help you understand what changes await the French fashion house.
Matthew Williams is the founder of the 1017 ALYX 9SM brand, named after his daughter
The name of the brand, which debuted in the fall-winter 2015 season and has become synonymous with hype, is pronounced “Alix”. The main components of its visual aesthetics: monochrome total looks (remember the image of Bella Hadid at the fall-winter 2020 show, consisting of a strict shirt and tie – he literally blew up the Internet in January this year) and a lot of accessories. Case in point: ALYX’s biggest hit is the Rollercoaster belt with a buckle inspired by the rides at Six Flags in California.
1017 ALYX 9SM Fall-Winter 2020
© Victor VIRGILE
Williams’ Music Industry Friends – Grammy Winners
Williams has always been an avid nightclub enthusiast and strives to bring the world of music and fashion together in his work. As the art director of Lady Gaga (they even met for a while), Williams worked on music videos and created stage and everyday images for the singer – the latter she showed on a “couple of meters long catwalk”, as the designer himself put it: from the entrance to hotel to limousine. Following Gaga, Williams became Artistic Director for Kanye West, who helped with album covers and touring looks. And among the fans of his brand ALYX: Skepta, Dua Lipa, A $ AP Rocky and Drake.
Williams supports sustainable development not in word but in deed
Given ALYX’s commitment to sustainability, you can expect similar initiatives from Williams at Givenchy. In June 2019, Matthew’s brand also began to use blockchain technology: now tags on some products are accompanied by a special QR code, by scanning which you can find out the entire history of the creation of the thing – where the raw materials for the production of fabric were obtained, in which factory it was sewn, how exactly it was transported and so on. In addition, everyone who works with ALYX must sign the brand’s code of ethics, which outlines the principles of social and environmental responsibility.
Williams is a truly international designer
Born in Chicago, Illinois, raised in California and lived in New York for a time, he moved with his wife and two children to Ferrara in northern Italy in 2017. Williams took such a step to be closer to the factories where ALYX things are created, and, as the designer himself admitted in an interview with Vogue last year, this allowed him to finally change the environment: “When I launched my own brand, I understood that Italy Is one of the few places in the world where I can produce goods of all categories of the highest quality and from the best materials. It is an incredible experience: you are already over 30, and you are learning to understand a new culture and a new place for you. “
Matthew Williams welcomes viewers to the 1017 ALYX 9SM Fall Winter 2020 Fashion Show
© Victor VIRGILE
He dropped out of art school and studied design on his own.
Williams originally planned to pursue a bachelor’s degree in art from the University of California, but dropped out when he realized he was more interested in fashion. He then gained experience with Keith Richardson’s Corpus brand and Los Angeles boutique Maxfield and, even though he was denied admission at Parsons School of Design, moved to New York. There, thanks to his work with Lady Gaga, Williams met photographer Nick Knight, who became his “godfather in the fashion world.” In 2016, Williams was shortlisted for the LVMH Prize for Young Designers. Who needs an advanced degree when Nick Knight and Dolphin Arnault can be your mentors?
Williams is often involved in collaborations (but rarely talks about it)
While working for Kanye West, he, along with Heron Preston and Virgil Abloh (who at that time was the creative director of the rapper) organized the creative group Been Trill, which collaborated with Nike, Mackintosh, Vans and Kim Jones at Dior. In February 2019, Williams became a guest designer for the Moncler Genius project, joining the likes of Pierpaolo Piccioli, Jonathan Anderson and Simon Rocha.
Matthew Williams at Moncler Genius 2019