At Givenchy’s historic George V couture salons on Wednesday, Ruinart Champagne in fancy crystal coupes was ferried on silver trays as piano music tinkled. Tables were laden with madeleines and mini lobster sandwiches from the Ritz hotel, and small black serviettes with 4G logos were proffered with silver tongs.
Less than three weeks after creative director Matthew M. Williams exited the brand, Givenchy returned home — and to the aristocratic atmosphere that has long hovered around it. Gone were the 3D-printed sneakers, the distressed jeans, the meaty bombers and the logo jerseys that were among the elements Williams had brought to the brand over his three-year tenure.
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In their place came a little bit of everything, including colorful suits and trim coats reminiscent of the Ozwald Boateng era, quirky silk babushkas printed with a variety of hairstyles, and chandelier prints splashed on silk shirts and heavily embroidered jeans.
What a sight seeing the models file up and down the grand staircase with its elaborate wrought-iron bannister, parading slowly like the high-fashion shows of yore. Yet the spectacle had a grandeur that the clothes didn’t quite live up to.
Attributed to a design team, the collection riffed on couture smocks, tuxedo dressing and luxe casual, and was largely in line with the season’s return to classic menswear. It was “a study of the new gentleman inspired by the character of Hubert de Givenchy,” according to the press notes.
While tailcoats were paired with casual tank tops, the collection had a dressy backbone, with pearl buttons lined up on the back of turtlenecks and Henley sweaters, and stiff horsehair embellishing coats and pants for a faun effect.
Occasionally the seriousness was interrupted with humor, like those babushkas, and a number of exits, including a silvery parka bearing an archival cat print, its yellow eyes staring out.
Awaiting the appointment of a new creative director, this placeholder collection did its job in keeping the flame alive for an esteemed heritage brand, while leaving the slate clean for a new vision.
Launch Gallery: Givenchy Men's Fall 2024
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