Elegance is instinctive. An inherent sensibility, it is founded in codes that seduce our shared sense of sophistication: the drape of a chiffon dress, the curve of a sculpted neckline, the grace of a hand-painted flower. For the Spring-Summer 2024 Women’s Collection, Givenchy reflects on a collective comprehension of elegance as shaped by the genetics of its own heritage and a present-day desire for simplicity. Through his instinctive approach to the Maison, Artistic Director Matthew M. Williams composes through technical notes a contemporary grammar of elegance mirrored in the ease of the real wardrobe mentality of the women who surround him.
Silhouettes suspend the rigid and the relaxed. Architectonic hourglass tailoring in gentleman’s wools is sculpted with half-moon curves along necklines and hemlines. Jackets and dresses with plunging or winged open backs evoke the language of haute couture. Conversely, softly structured double-breasted blazers cut an enveloping frame echoed in contemporary takes on opera coats constructed in delicate duchesse satin. The skirt suit is re-invigorated with pedestaling ankle-length skirts and flight jackets.
An undying symbol of elegance, the flower is entrenched within the archives of Hubert de Givenchy whose passion for gardens Matthew M. Williams shares as a source of recreation and inspiration. Florals inform the collection’s palette and materialise throughout, in embroideries and hand-painted motifs, in prints, and sculpted metal jewellery. Lace, a trope of elegance central to the Maison, is re-activated in the volants of dresses. Jewels transform into clothing in latticed pearl, glass and crystal grid dresses and skirts.
Appropriating evening codes for day, flou re-energises Givenchy’s emblematic draping in second-skin filtrage dresses sheathed, ruched and knotted within translucent overlays. A series of dresses are spliced from different fabrics – chiffon, taffeta, organza – adorned with the same floral print. Mud silk, a Ming Dynasty dying technique in which silk is submersed in river mud, conveys an oscillating leathery effect in graceful dresses, some embraced in gestural shrugs across the bust. The material enters into an exchange with leather tailoring with hardware detailing adapted from the Voyou bag.
Formalwear interprets the season’s sculptural lines and flower motifs in rosette cocktail dresses and taffeta or satin gowns swirled into rose formations. Diaphanous chiffon dresses epitomise the collection’s draping. Crystal chokers, hoop earrings, ear cuffs and rings are ornamented with single pearl pendants, mirrored in classic pearl necklaces. Another choker fuses crystal encrustation with Cuban chains, while rings are festooned with metal roses. Hair-comb headbands transform into Alice bands in gold or silver finishings.
The filtrage employed in dresses is evoked in pointed stilettos encased by mesh overlay, which stretches into a boot silhouette with an ankle strap. They feature in leather and crystal with black or pastel mesh. Wrapped around a pointed mule, the collection materials of mud silk, translucent fabric and leather creating a flower-like embellishment. A draped, twisted peep-toe mule riffs on the motif of ruching, while the signature Shark Lock boot is reinterpreted in an open-toe stiletto version in stretch leather. As a nod to classic elegance, the minimal d’Orsay pointed pump enhances the collection’s sleek silhouette.
The Voyou line is re-invigorated with sliding chain straps that fade in dimension, and a new trapezoid flap bag framed by chunky etched hardware buckles. The shape is echoed in a slimmer clutch in embossed crocodile or duchesse ruched into a rosette, featuring a strap garlanded with a thin ‘bra chain’. A large lightweight tote bag with a strap closure and a dressy buckled top-hand bag are crafted in calfskin and canvas. New hardware motifs are inspired by the ornate interiors of Hubert de Givenchy’s homes. A new 4G buckle graces dresses and sunglasses, as well as an abstracted bird embellishment which architecturally articulates a soft lambskin clutch and a shoulder bag.
Staged in the grounds of L’École Militaire, the show is set within an urban-scale sculpture designed by Gabriel Calatrava for the Collaborative Architecture Laboratory*. An inversion of the institutional runway tent, the structure is fashioned from billowing fabric suspended around a lightweight steel skeleton. Inside, it creates a chrysalis-like space: an intimate monochromatic white interior with a calm atmosphere reflective of the collection’s themes of ease and elegance. The set for the Givenchy Spring-Summer 2024 Women’s Collection is created from rented and reusable materials.
* CAL is a New York City-based collaborative design studio founded by the structural engineer and architect Gabriel Calatrava.