melting sunsets + psych Grim Reapers

Matthew M. Williams collaborated with artist Josh Smith for Givenchy SS22
By Alex James Taylor | Fashion | 6 October 2021

Inside the La Défense Arena, a giant oval light hung suspended above the audience, bathing the vast space in bright, white light. This starkness embraced a gallery-like atmosphere that seemed apt upon reading that Matthew M. Williams’ latest Givenchy collection was designed in collaboration with artist Josh Smith (Williams’ partner Marlene Zwirner, of the David Zwirner Gallery, helped connect the two).

Known for his multi-medium, abstract works, Smith’s practice fed directly through Williams’ thinking this season. From Smith’s melting sunsets, skeleton paintings and psychedelic Grim Reapers, the Givenchy designer plucked a freakish abstraction that clicked with his own subversive oddness: implicitly – Smith’s work was translated directly onto knitwear, leather and semi-sheer layers – and subtlety – those saturated colours became electric bolts and vulcanized jeans mirrored Smith’s expressive textures. Hand craftsmanship was key, utilising Givenchy’s eminent salon to emphasise a tangible spirit that has escaped the world in recent times. Embroidery and tulle decorated garments with lightness – juxtaposing with Williams’ signature futurism – as intricate tooling and basket woven leatherwork offered a soulful, artisanal touch inspired by Smith’s basket weaving and wood work.

And Williams’ own multi-medium practice was exhibited sonically too, with an original score created by friend of the house Young Thug echoing pulsing the spaceship-like venue like a brilliant sci-fi engine rev.

GALLERYCatwalk looks from this show