On Monday, Givenchy announced its third creative director in three years: Matthew Williams, the 34-year-old Californian designer behind the streetwear label 1017 Alyx 9SM. Williams shared the news on Instagram via voice memo and a shirtless photo shoot with Paolo Roversi. Suffice it to say, the appointment signals a new era for the house, which has come a long way from its Audrey Hepburn-approved roots in couture stretching back to the 1950s.
Unlike his two most recent predecessors, Clare Waight Keller and Riccardo Tisci, Williams has no formal design training—though that didn’t stop him from becoming an LVMH Prize finalist in 2016, just a year after launching Alyx. Before that, Williams worked as creative director for Lady Gaga, art director for Kanye West, and cofounder of Been Trill, a DJ and art collective with the designers Heron Preston and Virgil Abloh.
Several years ago, Williams’s appointment may have come as a shock. But it mirrors a direction LVMH has been heading in at least since 2018, when the luxury conglomerate tapped Abloh to head up Louis Vuitton’s menswear. Williams, who officially starts on Tuesday, has already acknowledged that more change is in store: “I am looking forward to working together with its ateliers and teams, to move it into a new era, based on modernity and inclusivity,” he said in a statement. “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.”
Williams seems to be taking a similar approach with Alyx, which he will continue to run while at Givenchy. Earlier this month, the label dropped an “Anti-Racist Action” t-shirt, and announced it would be donating the profits to the Freedom Fund, the National Bail Out Fund, and Campaign Zero.