Above us a drone whined, twisted, and whirred, its rotors producing enough updraft to blow strands of the ostrich feather collars worn by some models up to adhere on their lips. At our feet another drone, this one on wheels, clinked and clanked as it forwarded and reversed to ensure the shots allowed for lingering glances at the split-toe contra-color womenswear heels and the Mono boot, a bulky but contoured EVA foam puddleboot that was an update of a similar piece first launched a few seasons back. The models walked to a slow burning, snare-rattled beat by F1lthy, who had put an original composition together after receiving images of this show venue, a decadently-decorated but near-derelict church on the edge of town named Saint Victor and the Forty Martyrs.
There were just 70 of us in the congregation for the first show by Matthew Williams’s brand—full name 1017 Alyx 9SM—in Italy. It was something of a homecoming for a label that was founded by Williams in Ferrara back in 2015, in partnership with Slam Jam’s Luca Benini, before the design studio was moved to Milan two years later. Despite that, all its pre-pandemic shows were in Paris. “But Milan has been our home for that time, and now we’re here to stay, which is cool,” said Williams.
The collection was consistent with those past Parisian promenades in the striking contrast between its masculine and feminine silhouettes. Those in the menswear, including the musician Destroy Lonely, wore layered stratae of sheepskin or puffer over technical midlayers or volumized knits and PVC pants, sometimes alongside short over pant layering, placed against long topcoats with bulkily bolstered shoulders, all making for an exaggeratedly weighty and visually protective carapace. For those in the womenswear, dresses cut away below the bust served as capes over hip-skimming pants, full-length dresses were edged in crystalline mesh, and fitted monocolor pant and baselayer combos in fuchsia and red were ruched at the shoulder via trademark Alyx hardware.
Thinking of the long gap between Alyx’s last show and this one, we wondered if Willams had processed any input from clients about their evolving tastes. He replied: “I wish I had more time to spend with the clientele and understand them a little bit better, but I honestly just make clothes that I feel are desirable. So maybe it sounds selfish or narcissistic, but I’m just making things that I like, and hopefully other people will like them too. That’s just how I move.”