Hmm, I found myself thinking on Saturday night, perched under a glowing oval in the light of a Parisian arena with another million people on the Givenchy show. Hmmmmmmm.
I thought “Hmmm“Because of the strange quality of the gift. You see, there was an “original score” (in the words of creative director Matthew Williams) from Young Thug, a good California casting (long shiny hair!), Ultra-smooth products like big dull boots and backpacks for themed sequences to free black lemon bottles. In other words, the show had all the necessities for a successful live track debut for Williams, who joined the house in the late summer of 2020 and has since released digital collections, including a search book for his first collection, shot by Hedge. Shin, which I really adored.
So why did everything feel that way …Hmmmmm?
Interestingly, many people who saw the show only on Instagram seemed to adore it. Williams is naturally suited to the brand, which was a playground for some of the world’s most famous princes of darkness, including John Galliano and Alexander McQueen, and focuses more on the elegant old-fashioned chic of Williams’ predecessor. Claire Waite Keller. But personally, it was difficult to match these clothes with the broader sentiments of sensuality and freedom that conquered not only the world of fashion but also pop culture: they were not conceptual enough to prove that they stood for something different. The problem with being cool is that it’s very easy to slip in the cold.
There was something interesting about collaborating with New York-based and Tennessee-born artist Josh Smith. Smith’s attitude toward sunsets and palm trees and Matisse’s rich tones are a great spiritual match for Williams, which is like a ping-pong between those in California and the city’s hard-edged city dwellers. These days, however, cooperation in the field of fine arts feels a bit abandoned, so in order to work, the premise requires some purity. Apparently Williams met Smith through the David Zwirner Gallery. (He is also rumored to be dating Zwirner’s daughter Marlene.) This is probably a little too much scratching as the base of the collapse.
I felt a little different when I went to the showroom the next day. The close-up details are quite fabulous, like a men’s blazer with sleeves cut at the shoulder to reveal a layered cake of lining and rubber. Some of the pieces are even weird (men’s leather thigh boots? Honestly, fine!). And Smith’s clothes are a good gram of bait, especially jeans and a turtleneck, plus a hand-made rope hood that looks like a hood with an art connoisseur’s badge. Apparently he has an Art Basel jeans client, painted by Josh Smith. Of course, the Givenchy studio is a beacon of mastery and you can say that Williams, who loves technical innovation, enjoys the team to collect strange new zippers, small blooming pants, whimsical fabrics for outer space and a little pastoral details. The clothes would look pretty fantastic if you weren’t just a slim body, but an asshole – this is clothing for those who have disciplined themselves in tense muscles through an unforgivable juice regime (or goth lemonade and leafy vegetables. Men’s clothing is a little more forgiving , although the pleated hoods and tailored jackets felt the strongest as the main palette for accessories.
So what does it explain Hmmm? Williams apparently channeled McQueen, and is also a longtime friend and collaborator of Kanye West. (Several others made comparisons to Yeezy’s Season 1, to the dreamcape-y soundtrack Williams is working on.) These are men who have often dug up dark psychology to fill their work with drama and intense pathos, with the threat of financial or spiritual ruin, eternally present. I don’t know if Williams should go that far. Ricardo Tisci, Teje Keller’s predecessor, was a serious master of dark pop fashion, but he always looked soft enough. You don’t have to put your demons on the track to make your clothes move. Waite Keller was much more of a classic, a product of the fashion system that thought and dreamed with great nuance. Her design, especially her men’s clothing, moved from something like a precious and occasionally torn beard. Still, she was obsessed with shape and cut, and could spend hours getting the right hem or shoulder. She meant an ideal of perfection, even though it was about freedom, not control.
It seems to me that Williams believes that he makes dark and disciplined clothes, but in fact his love of control over fabric and cut and his palette of references make him make a more gothic version of the way Waight Keller clothes are made. He may be too conservative in his thinking and certainly too attached to his references, which feel outdated, especially his interest in sculpted neoprene and upholstery. But he makes really great products — I’d buy those big boots and pumpkin raffia, and maybe a crazy laundry bag if I wasn’t allergic to logos — and the pieces are well made and fun to watch. The question is whether Williams want to have fun or chase something else. If this is the last, he must be ready to confront, to insult. (His partnership with Shin suggests he could be.) One wonders: if there was someone to add a little tension to his life, such as a fresh young stylist, an unexpected photographer, or a home muse outside the Kardashian industrial complex, things could they look radically different. More calm, more personal and perhaps most importantly, more unshakable.