Locked and loaded: a new-look for Givenchy and chainmail maximalism at Paco Rabanne

American designer Matthew Williams revealed his debut collection for Givenchy last night, via a series of images released on the brand’s social media channels.

Despite the lack of splashy runway show, the SS21 collection marked a radical turning point for the storied Parisian couture house and is likely to be well received by the designer’s vast cohort of streetwear-loving fans

Designed in the midst of a pandemic and completed within two months, Williams’ SS21 collection served as a ‘sampler’ for an altogether punkier, more utilitarian Givenchy, with inclusivity and gender neutrality at its core.

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It’s a stark Departure from the all-female casts and softer, more feminine silhouettes of his predecessor Claire Waight Keller’s tenure, that was to be expected from a designer whose own label Alyx is a streetwear success story beloved of rappers like Kanye West – with whom Williams used to work – Drake and Skepta.

Just as Alyx’s seatbelt buckle fastening is a brand signature, Williams honed in on hardware, with the padlock emerging as a new Givenchy house code. “A unisex object of utility, decoration, commitment and emotion,” said the collection notes, and a clear nod to the lost locks of Paris’ Le Pont des Arts, padlocks punctuated as decoration and fastenings throughout.

Alongside plenty of Williams’ signature strong-shouldered outerwear, slick tailoring and crumpled leather trousers, the designer paid homage to Hubert de Givenchy’s signature swathes of looped drapery with knotted satin halter necks in tomato red and optic white, and offered gently glamorous eveningwear for the streetwear set with slinky open-back jersey dresses in black and sequin-trimmed yellow, styled with T-string thongs protruding.

Those in the market for slightly higher octane eveningwear might look to Paco Rabanne’s latest offering, unveiled via an intimate runway show on Sunday. Set against a backdrop of mirrored bead curtains, the collection referenced Paco Rabanne’s first collection in 1966, Twelve Dresses in Unwearable Materials, and riffed on the house’s chainmail signature with full-length gowns and matching headdresses bedecked in gold and silver metal discs, and head-to-toe floral beading.

Christmas parties might be off the cards, but if the brand’s head designer Julien Dossena has anything to do with it, they’ll be back with a shimmering, shimmying bang come spring.

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