Review of Givenchy

Fall 2023 Men's Fashion Show

Review of Givenchy Fall 2023 Men’s Fashion Show

A Tale of Two Givenchys

By Mark Wittmer

With his Fall 2023 men’s collection, creative director Matthew M. Williams finally began to embark upon the haute-minded, yet still youthful and streetsmart, level of design that we had been hoping for since his appointment to the prestigious Parisian house.

Somewhat whiplash inducing, the collection oscillated between sharp elegance and combatively grungy streetwear, but its best moments happened in the looks where these two ideas came together.

The series of four incredibly sharp black suits with hidden buttons styled with turtlenecks, gloves, and pointed toes that opened the show felt like a radical shift from the maximally casual 2000s-y sweatpants, hoodies, and denim that characterized Williams’ polarizing previous men’s show for the house. Aside from the almost industrial angularity that attested to previous touches we’ve seen from the designer, these four looks felt like an intentional reset.

From here, though, Williams’ previous tendencies trickled in, and quickly became a rushing stream. Hoodies abound, layered over or under flannels, tees, and sweatshirts. Double-knee pants à la Dickies reference workwear getting recommissioned by skaters, while stompy work boots push a similar idea of practical, purposeful clothing being picked up a street staple.

While the silhouettes and names of pieces are familiar from last time, a rich new sense of layering and materiality creeps in. Leather is pushed beyond patina and chaotically distressed for a shredded surface effect that is nonetheless touchably soft, or else irregularly washed and laminated. Oversized pants are slashed above the knee (a bit of inspiration from Miu Miu?) and worn as shorts over slightly less oversized pants. Color combinations seem intentionally unintentional, as if these characters got dressed in the dark or are wearing everything they own. (With regards to this latter idea, it does feel weird for a luxury company to sell the image of looking homeless, and it’s tough not to make the comparison.) Symbols of luxury occasionally peek through the chaotic grunge mishmash: snakeskin, fur lining, sleek jewelry.

There are maybe two too many of these looks; while there are nice textures and layered moments to them, we get the idea pretty quickly, and Williams takes longer than he needs to remind us where we started and recognize that this is, in fact, a French luxury house. Finally, he brings us back, layering in lush knit coats and sweaters. But what is probably the collection’s best moment comes in one of its simplest, in a pair of suits – one charcoal and one navy – the lapels of which, in a subtly progressive tailoring gesture, are crisply unfolded and whose hems are left raw and ragged. This look feels like an unobtrusive synthesis of the collection’s competing personas of edgy indulgence in streetwise decay and haughtily restrained luxury. The rest of the collection continues to riff on this idea, introducing more classically chic archetypes and other workwear-by-way-of-street-style staples, as well as fun textures and technical details, into the established silhouette.

Relaxed tailoring over layered personal style essentials has felt like the biggest theme this menswear season across Milan and now into Paris, and Williams nicely played into this idea while sticking to his guns and putting a distinct spin on it.

While his time at Givenchy thus far may have garnered concern and confusion from devotees of the house’s heyday, Williams’ latest collection gives the brand’s history the respect it deserves while seeing it through his own distinct, youth-minded perspective.