Following the news that Matthew M Williams has been named as the new creative director of Givenchy, your first reaction might be: 'Who?'
Those outside the streetwear fashion world will have probably never heard of Williams, yet they will almost certainly have seen his work. He was the man behind some of Lady Gaga's most memorable looks between 2008 and 2010, including those on her album covers.
From there he joined Kanye West, as head of the rapper's company Studio Donda. Williams's eye for loose cuts and sharp details is clearly evident in West's early design collections.
A rising star on the high-end streetwear scene (he was once part of a collective with Virgil Abloh, now head of menswear at Louis Vuitton), his work has become increasingly polished over the years, despite having no formal fashion training. In 2016, he caught the eye of LVMH when he was put forward for its annual prize.
He founded his label 1017 Alyx 9SM, known as Alyx, in 2015. Having shifted his fashion shows from New York to Paris (while he and his family actually live in Milan), by March 2017, the demands of the Parisian fashion crowd had honed Williams's eye even more, leading him to create ever more sophisticated, impeccable looks, all while retaining that urbane air of subtle anarchy.
What he brings to Givenchy
The appointment of Williams marks a shift in focus for the storied French house. Best known for its elegant style, founder Hubert de Givenchy famously dressed Audrey Hepburn and Clare Waight Keller (from whom he's taking the role over from) created Meghan Markle’s wedding dress for her marriage to Prince Harry. Past designers at Givenchy have also included John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Julien Macdonald and Riccardo Tisci.
Click through the images above to see Williams's evolution from Gaga to Givenchy.
Williams, in contrast, has no formal fashion training and instead has a keen instinct for mixing high and low into upscale streetwear. He began his career collaborating with musicians, and inspired by technology and futurism.
He began his tenure at Givenchy on Tuesday, June 16, and will oversee both the men’s and women’s lines. With his sharp blending of fashion genres, he will undoubtedly bring a blast of new energy to the house, as well a shift in creative direction towards a younger, more relaxed crowd.
“I am extremely honored to join the House of Givenchy,” Williams said in a statement. “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, to move it into a new era, based on modernity and inclusivity. I am grateful to the LVMH group for trusting me with the opportunity to fulfill my lifelong dream.
"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.”