When I spoke with Matthew Williams earlier this month about Alyx, he laughed off the suggestion that the label’s new metal bar detailing on coats and trousers “was the new buckle.” After all, he is the designer who made rollercoaster buckles the must-have at Alyx and through his collaboration with Kim Jones at Dior Men. “I don’t like making predictions like that,” he said.
His first visuals for Givenchy—aside from the Paolo Roversi—lensed portraits and a soft voice memo that announced his arrival earlier this year–emphasise the hardware that will be integral to the first chapter of Williams’s Givenchy narrative. Inspired by the Love Locks on Paris’s Pont des Arts, Williams has fused the maison’s 4G logo with the lock to create, surely, a new It object.
The hardware makes its debut in a video by Nick Knight, a collaborator since Williams’s Lady Gaga days, with a voiceover by Playboi Carti, one of the designer’s closest friends. “I love this video so much,” Williams tells Vogue. “I’m having so much fun at Givenchy, working with the best people, making the pieces, creating this whole new universe. It felt like our first film should be a representation of that. A work in progress, something around the behind-the-scenes process, where all the details matter, but [are] made among friends and with a lot of fun.”
Williams says he asked “two of my closest friends to help me make this first campaign,” a collaborative approach that has been percolating elsewhere in this digi-physi-virtual spring/summer 2021 season. Family projects, whether the casting of Gucci’s designers in its look book or Gabriela Hearst putting herself and her sister in hers, only add brand integrity. “Nick and Carti are both legends in their fields that I deeply admire, and having their continuous support means the world to me,” Williams says.
“We wanted it to feel homemade, like something we would have randomly put together (and we kind of did!),” he adds of the short video. “Of course, Nick’s lens makes it feel very sophisticated and intimate: I always feel safe with his imagery; it has that elevated quality that feels right for Givenchy, but also that softness that feels modern and brings out certain emotions.”
He continues: “Same with Carti—it was just so fun to hear him say the brand’s name over and over and over, in right and wrong ways. That made it extra relevant to me. I wanted the message to be: It doesn’t matter how you say it. Any way is right, as long as it’s your way!”
This, then, is a looser interpretation of the strictness once associated with the historic maison of Givenchy, a place stitched into the codes of Parisian elegance. But if there’s one thing Williams is already doing, it’s remaking this heritage brand in his own spirit. Galliano had his historical drama, McQueen his pop culture futurism, Tisci a sumptuous gothic romance, Waight Keller a woman’s touch on couture. Williams has a Californian pop-savvy eye that already shows in his imagery. All that’s left to say: Watch the show on 4 October.
This article was originally published on Vogue.com