Matthew Williams attracts A-list front row with first 1017 Alyx 9SM show
Matthew Williams surely couldn't have asked for more for his first show. The same audience seen at Thursday's Louis Vuitton runway showed up to applaud 1017 Alyx 9SM's debut, including a front row featuring a clutch of A-list American rappers, from Kanye West to Asap Rocky, via Skepta, to name but a few. And not forgetting Virgil Abloh, creative director at Louis Vuitton menswear and Off-White!
That said, it's true that the founder of Alyx, renamed 1017 Alyx 9SM as of this spring/summer 2019 collection, is no stranger to these circles. He has previously served as creative director for Lady Gaga and Kanye West; led his own studio, Donda; and founded a collective of artists and DJ's, Been Trill, with, among others, Virgil Abloh. He has also signed off on a collaboration with Kim Jones, who now heads up Dior Homme, a label for which Matthew Williams designed a belt buckle, integrated into the accessories range for next summer.
Suffice to say, then, that when the young designer launched a women's ready-to-wear label in 2015 – to which menswear would be added in 2017 – he wasn't exactly stepping out into terra incognita.
A building under construction was the venue he chose for his first show – the ideal decor in which to present his dark rocker looks, which featured something of a futuristic streak and were worn by models perched on high-heeled ankle boots.
The collection was built around a concept that can perhaps best be described by the designer's own words: "luxury subverted by counter-cultures". Bare-chested models wore black biker pants in leather or vinyl, while others donned full white suits and hooded tops, or paired snakeskin trousers with tie-dye t-shirts. A passion for detail and craftsmanship was apparent throughout.
Windbreakers in technical fabrics were made with space to cover backpacks, giving models a hunchbacked silhouette, while sneakers and hiking boots were likewise covered with studded rubber galoshes made by Italian footwear company Vibram. Flaps of denim hung from the waist of jeans or were worn like loincloths, while Matthew Williams' famous safety buckles fastened long belts with metal eyelets.
The designer, who is also hosting a pop-up on Paris' Rue Bréguet until 27th June, took advantage of his runway show to unveil a plethora of new collaborations with partners including Nike, Mackintosh and Italian weaver Majocchi.
Having left Chicago at the age of two, Matthew Williams grew up in California before moving to New York, where he founded his label. His meticulous approach to his products brought him success and last year he set up in Ferrare, Italy, with his wife and his daughter Alyx, in order to be closer to manufacturers and suppliers. His brand is currently distributed through some one hundred points of sale around the world, such as Paris' The Broken Arm and Dover Street Market.
It was on crutches that Matthew Williams took to the catwalk to thank his audience at the end of the show, having broken his leg playing football. The effort, however, must have been worth it, as he was roundly applauded for his sophisticated, contemporary collection, a fine example of the fashion which has turned his brand into one of the coolest labels around.
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