Matthew Williams Is Givenchy’s New Creative Director, He’s The Founder Of Streetwear Label 1017 Alyx 9SM

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PARIS, FRANCE — Last April 2020, D.M. Fashion Book reported that, after three years in her role, Givenchy‘s artistic director Clare Waight Keller left the iconic luxury label (see it here).

On March 16, 2017, we confirmed that Givenchy (owned by LVMH MoĂ«t Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE) named Waight Keller as its new artistic director, responsible for women’s and men’s wear, accessories and couture (see it here). She became the first woman to run the creative side of the house founded by Hubert de Givenchy in 1952 and was Riccardo Tisci‘s successor. He exited the storied French brand in February 2017, after 12 years at the helm (see it here).

Today Monday (June 15), Givenchy announced that designer Matthew M. Williams, the 34-year-old founder of luxury streetwear-inspired label 1017 ALYX 9SM, will be its new creative director, in the designer’s first major director role. He succeeds Clare Waight Keller, starts June 16 and will present his first collection in Paris in October. Williams will continue to operate Alyx independently.

The news will particularly excite Millennial and Gen-Z shoppers, who are projected to represent at least half of luxury shoppers by 2025, according to Bain & Company, and who drive consumption in China, the world’s largest market for personal luxury goods.

The American designer is a key ringleader of the luxury streetwear scene, Williams becomes the French house’s seventh couturier.

In a statement shared first with WWD, Williams described Givenchy’s new era as one “based on modernity and inclusivity.”

“In these unprecedented times for the world, I want to send a message of hope, together with my community and colleagues, and intend to contribute towards positive change,” he said.

He expressed gratitude to Givenchy parent LVMH MoĂ«t Hennessy Louis Vuitton “for trusting me with the opportunity to fulfill my lifelong dream“.

“The maison’s unique position and timeless aura make it an undeniable icon and I am looking forward to working together with its ateliers and teams,” he added.

Williams’ new role marks the second time a streetwear designer has taken the helm of a major legacy luxury brand, following Virgil Abloh’s hiring at Louis Vuitton in 2018 (see it here). He assumes all creative responsibilities, including women’s and men’s collections, Givenchy noted.

Williams will likely further push Givenchy in a streetwear direction, though he joins the luxury couture house during a period of turbulence for the fashion industry. He arrives at Givenchy in a difficult context, the coronavirus pandemic having deflated a lengthy luxury boom and jeopardized fashion’s most sacred rituals, particularly the fashion show. The pandemic is expected to shrink the luxury market by as much as 35 percent this year due to store closures and decreased travel and consumer spending.

Williams, who grew up in California and will now relocate to Paris from Ferrara, Italy, entered the fashion business through the music industry and is known for his work with Lady Gaga, Abloh and Kanye West. He is also a close collaborator of Abloh’s; they were among the co-founders of the creative collective Been Trill in 2012. Both designers are West-associated creatives who have ascended to the highest ranks of the fashion industry in recent years.

Williams launched women’s fashion label Alyx in 2015 — backed by sportswear distributor and cultural arbiter Slam Jam, led by Luca Benini — and was a finalist for the LVMH Prize the following year. In 2017, he added a men’s line, which has become more prominent than the women’s collection.

Williams has collaborated over the years with Moncler, Dior, Vans and Nike.

Sidney Toledano, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH Fashion Group, said he has had his eye on Williams since the designer was shortlisted for the 2016 LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers.

“We have had the pleasure of watching him develop into the great talent he is today,” Toledano said. “I believe his singular vision of modernity will be a great opportunity for Givenchy to write its new chapter with strength and success.”

Renaud de Lesquen, who joined as president and CEO of Givenchy on April 1, also expressed confidence.

“I am convinced that, with his unapologetic approach to design and creativity and in great collaboration with the maison’s exceptional ateliers and teams, Matthew will help Givenchy reach its full potential,” he said.

Williams is a self-taught designer. He started his career in fashion production, cut his teeth at Alexander McQueen, made a name for himself working as creative director for Lady Gaga and counts Kanye West and Kim Jones as his professional godfathers — the latter actually designed his and his wife Jenny’s wedding outfits. Williams designed a stylized CD buckle for Jones’ debut collection for Dior Men in 2018 that has become a brand signature.

According to Givenchy, “Williams advocates authentic values of research, technical innovation and creative repurposing that align perfectly” with its philosophy of “elegant ease“.

“An intuitive understanding of tailoring, technology and integrity in fashion make the designer an ideal steward for carrying the Givenchy legacy forward with modernity and power,” it added.

Williams will partner with de Lesquen, who previously spent four years at Dior Americas. A suave but discreet executive, de Lesquen also served the same amount of time as president of Dior China. Prior to that, he spent 10 years at L’OrĂ©al in Paris, as president and CEO of YSL BeautĂ©, and before that as global president of Giorgio Armani Beauty.

Photos Credit: Courtesy of Givenchy 

Source: WWD

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Donovan

Donovan is the CEO and Editor-In-Chief of www.dmfashionbook.com. For all general inquiries please email don@dmfashionbook.com Donovan has a BA in Journalism & Media Studies from the prestigious Rutgers University. He's currently studying entertainment and fashion law.