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Matthew Williams to Exit Givenchy

The American designer will depart the LVMH-owned fashion house effective January 1st with succession plans yet to be announced.
The American designer will depart the LVMH-owned fashion house January 1st with succession plans yet to be announced.
Designer Matthew Williams is set to depart LVMH-owned Givenchy on January 1st.

Matthew Williams is set to exit Givenchy after three and a half years as its creative director, the Paris-based fashion house said in a short statement.

The American designer rose to prominence designing for performers like Kanye West before founding his own label, 1017 Alyx 9SM, in 2015. Known for a haute streetwear aesthetic blending sleek tailoring with utility-inspired metallic accents, Williams recently secured a new investor for Alyx, Hong Kong-based entrepreneur Adrien Cheng. (The label was originally backed by Slam Jam founder Luca Benini).

At LVMH-owned Givenchy, Williams’ vision got off to a rocky start during the pandemic, which limited exposure for his first shows. Following mixed reviews for his early collections, the designer found steadier footing after settling on a concept that straddled his penchant for punkish streetwear with the history of the house, aided by stylist Carine Roitfeld.

Still, the brand’s fashion message remained somewhat fuzzy: after teetering from the gothic couture-meets-streetwear aesthetic of Riccardo Tisci to Clare Waight Keller’s back-to-the-archives, classic vision, Givenchy likely needed a clearer, more captivating take on fashion as well as heftier investments from its parent company in order to keep up with stablemates like Celine and Loewe, mega-brands in the making which have enjoyed rapid growth in recent cycles.

While LVMH doesn’t communicate sales for individual brands, analysts believe the brand continues to underperform. “I don’t believe Givenchy is on the front foot and may well be below the pre-pandemic revenue level,” analyst Luca Solca said, pointing out that the brand was not mentioned in the group’s third-quarter results presentation.

Succession plans have yet to be announced Some industry insiders see Sarah Burton, the celebrated successor to late designer Alexander McQueen, as a shoe-in for the role since her departure from the UK-based label was announced in September. But Burton isn’t the sector’s only free agent: the fashion industry is bracing for news on where designers such as Alessandro Michele and Riccardo Tisci will stage their next acts.

Until a new creative director is announced Givenchy’s collections will be designed by its studio team.

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