A new formality. A modification of dress codes. An advancement of classics. For the Fall-Winter 2023 Men’s Collection, Givenchy re-evaluates and re-values the archetypes of menswear through the eyes of contemporary masculinities.
In the arts-driven community that surrounds him, Artistic Director Matthew M. Williams identifies an instinctive evolution of sartorial virtues reflected in his own relationship with clothes. It is an appreciation for the traditional values of menswear revitalised by the impulse to adapt them to suit a modern-day mentality: a dressing culture founded in individual ideas of formality, ease and confidence.
The reflection on individuality manifests in a study of the bespoke, practically as well as proverbially: archetypes deconstructed and reconstructed as a proposal for the multi-faceted characters who’ll wear them. The premise echoes in a soundtrack composed and recorded for the show by the British indie rock musician Bakar in the days leading up its unveiling. Presented within an optical white box, the collection highlights the technical and artisanal approaches employed in the transformation of garments and accessories, magnifying the radical cutting, complex fabric treatments and intricate surface decorations that underpin the process.
The customisation of dress codes takes form in tailoring – including four black suits created in the haute couture atelier – defiantly unhemmed at the seams, allowing for an unravelling process that elongates the physique. The technique triggers a study of volumes that spill out – disobeying the tucked-in tradition – in looks layered to achieve the maximum effect of the idea. They are created with cropped sweatshirts or with delicate jerseys pulled tightly over baggy layers of sportswear to define an elegant silhouette. Along the way, the patterned tropes of Americana abound: plaids, camouflage, flames, denim, bleached canvas, grey marl, neons, and teenage pastels.
The unpicking of classic shapes elicits a deconstruction of workwear expressed in cargo trousers spontaneously hacked open and transformed into skirts worn over sweatpants, reverberated in tartan kilts and boiler suits left undone. The look conjures a fly-on-the-wall 1960s photograph of Hubert de Givenchy in a jumper effortlessly tied around his jeans like a skirt, further fuelling the idea of how you wear things: self-expression through the imbuement of personal gestures into clothes. It inspires sweatshirts deconstructed to hang around the waist embraced by their sleeves, a generational evening silhouette that paves the way for a new formality: an austere all-sweats occasion suit styled with said sweat-skirt.
Throughout, the archetypes of the workwear wardrobe are hacked with exuberant motifs. From faux snakeskin to cheetah print and imitated wolf, they invoke the sudden explosions of pattern and texture found within Hubert de Givenchy’s otherwise classic private interiors. The materials scratch the surface of fabric experimentation employed as another way of evolving traditional menswear codes: Japanese boro stitching reconstructs denim, a hoodie is hand-plumed on a 4G grid structure, the tonic colours of metallic flight suits in polyurethane-coated nylon are achieved through painstaking garment dyes, the yellow paint of the back of a sheepskin flight jacket comes through its distressed front, and the institutional herringbone of Harris tweed greatcoats is intercepted with purple effects.
Bags adapt archival women’s shapes in a conversation of code-switching: Pandora a holdall is relaxed in construction in a sling-over shoulder dimension, or a man-bag cropped under the arm, and interpreted in the materials of the collection. These echo in a Voyou messenger bag with strap detailing created in an enlarged proportion or a very minimised edition whose faux fur spills out of the lining. The idea is re-evoked in gloves, complemented by sculptural rings. Shoes zone in on archetypes: a magnified work boot in leathers and washed canvas; a formal shoe morphed with a cowboy boot in leather, patent or faux snakeskin; wellingtons altered with carbon fibre embossed leather; and the TK-MX trainer updated in the materials of the collection.