fashion

Gaga and Kanye collaborator Matthew Williams announced as Givenchy's new creative director

Updated 17th June 2020
PARIS, FRANCE -- JANUARY 19 : Fashion designer Matthew Williams during the Alyx Menswear Fall/Winter 2020-2021 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on January 19, 2020 in Paris, France.(Photo by Estrop/Getty Images)
Credit: Estrop/Getty Images
Gaga and Kanye collaborator Matthew Williams announced as Givenchy's new creative director
Written by Hena Sharma, CNN
Matthew Williams, the founder of cult street-culture brand 1017 Alyx 9SM, and key figure in the luxury streetwear scene, has been named as Givenchy's new creative director. He succeeds Clare Waight Keller, who stepped down in April.
The 34-year-old American designer's appointment marks a noticeable shift in the brand's creative direction. Waight Keller, who spent three years at the house, concentrated on Givenchy's haute couture atelier and, notably, designed Meghan Markle's wedding dress for her marriage to Prince Harry. By comparison, Williams is inspired by subversive style and futuristic design. And, like Louis Vuitton artistic director Virgil Abloh, who has collaborated with Williams, the new Givenchy head mixes high and low fashion.
In 2008, Williams assisted costume designer Erin Hirsh on an LED jacket worn by Kanye West during his 2008 Grammy performance. For the next two years, Williams made a name for himself by working for Lady Gaga as a creative director for her behind-the-scenes team, Haus of Gaga. Williams has also worked with Dior and Nike.
Kanye West at the 2008 Grammys wearing an LED jacket designed by Erin Hirsh, with assistance from Matthew Williams.
Kanye West at the 2008 Grammys wearing an LED jacket designed by Erin Hirsh, with assistance from Matthew Williams. Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images North America
Though Williams does not have formal design training, he was a finalist for the 2016 LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers, and will start in his new role on June 16, presenting his debut collection in Paris in October.
Bella Hadid walks the runway during the 1017 Alyx 9SM Menswear Fall/Winter 2020-2021
Bella Hadid walks the runway during the 1017 Alyx 9SM Menswear Fall/Winter 2020-2021 Credit: Victor Boyko/Getty Images
Williams will be in charge of all creative aspects of Givenchy, including menswear and womenswear, and he joins during a particularly turbulent time for the fashion industry, as sales have plummeted due to the coronavirus pandemic and millions of jobs are at risk. Global anti-racism protests have put pressure on the industry, too, for its longstanding lack of cultural sensitivity and treatment of people of color. Abloh was the first African American to be appointed artistic director, for Louis Vuitton menswear in 2018; and Rihanna, who launched a collaboration between her brand Fenty and LVMH in 2019 was the first woman of color to head a luxury brand for the group.
Lady Gaga and Matthew Williams arrive at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles (2010)
Lady Gaga and Matthew Williams arrive at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles (2010) Credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images
Sidney Toledano, Chairman and CEO of LVMH Fashion Group said in an official statement: "I am very happy to see Matthew M. Williams join. Since he took part in the LVMH Prize, we have had the pleasure of watching him develop into the great talent he is today. I believe his singular vision of modernity will be a great opportunity for Givenchy to write its new chapter with strength and success."
In his own statement Williams said, "I am extremely honored to join the House of Givenchy. 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."
Adding: "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 toward positive change."
Note: This story was updated to clarify that the jacket worn by Kanye West at the 2008 Grammys was designed by Erin Hirsh, with Matthew Williams' assistance.