As, in a very different way, was Matthew Williams’s Givenchy collection. His official “show” debut, after a low-key presentation last season, was also largely black and white, with dashes of lipstick red, lavender and smoky orange. Filmed in a cavernous arena with a flooded floor, it was high in aggression and attitude, rife with extreme accessories that will probably become viral hits, clear in its vocabulary (and complete with its own soundtrack, courtesy of Robert Hood, a godfather of minimal techno), but not exactly original.
Exaggerated fur chubbies, big-shouldered bomber jackets and razor-tailored jackets were whittled down to tight little waists, the silhouette weighted at the neck with heavy metal chain-link necklaces, at the hands with yeti-mittens and at the feet with hoof-like block platforms (the kind awfully reminiscent of Alexander McQueen). Hemlines were given spiky, asymmetric cuts and slithery lace gowns were shredded to expose what was underneath. Atop it all came bat-eared knit balaclavas and Jughead bandanna crowns. Imagine what you might want to wear if you went to a gold-knuckled fight club, and this would be it.
While such luxury hard-core, haute-street territory has been mined before, by designers such as Riccardo Tisci, one of Mr. Williams’s Givenchy predecessors, as well as Mr. Williams’ former employer, Kanye West (in his pre-Yeezy fashion incarnation), an argument could be made that each generation should get to experiment with it anew. At least until the bare breasts in little triangles of bra tops minus the actual fabric appeared.
Once upon a time, back in the days of Yves Saint Laurent and early Helmut Newton, this could have qualified as provocative and edgy. On a call, Mr. Williams said that for him it was about female empowerment. But at this particular moment in time — post-MeToo, with the first female vice president in office in America, in the same month as International Women’s Day for goodness sake — it’s impossible to see flashing a female nipple on a runway as anything other than stale and wrongheaded.
Even before the pandemic, that was a look that had had its day. Mr. Williams may want to take another look into his crystal ball.