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How the iconic 1017 Alyx 9sm buckle came about

The detail that is synonymous with Matthew Williams' brand comes from an intuition at an amusement park

How the iconic 1017 Alyx 9sm buckle came about The detail that is synonymous with Matthew Williams' brand comes from an intuition at an amusement park

 When last weekend Elon Musk stepped on the Saturday Night Live stage for his monologue, he was wearing a black suit consisting of tailored trousers and a U-lock jacket with side closure by Givenchy, which on one hand made him look like one of Star Trek characters, while on the other hand he could have easily just stepped off a Parisian catwalk. That very particular closure, born from the mix of the design of the padlocks that decorate the Pont des Arts in Paris with the classic Givenchy logo, was one of the most striking innovations introduced by the new creative director of the Maison Matthew Williams, who around closures, details often deemed as secondary and far from common buckles has built an entire career. 

Valentino has its red, Chanel the tweed suits - despite the heated controversy with Saint Laurent -, Bottega Veneta the woven leather, 1017 Alyx 9sm has buckles. It might seem simplistic to say so, but the brand founded in 2015 by Matthew Williams together with his then-wife Jennifer Murray and Luca Benini of Slam Jam, has built around this apparently secondary detail very strong and identifying imagery. Unlike the great stories that have written the history of fashion, which speak of fortuitous intuitions in the middle of the night or unexpected and therefore revolutionary discoveries, the genesis of this accessory, especially when applied to the now-famous Rollercoaster Belt, has nothing particularly glamorous or brilliant, but it's the result of a mindset that looks to the substance, to a type of fashion that questions how its components are built. 

That buckle is in fact the faithful reproduction of the closure of a belt or harness that can be found in amusement parks, on roller coasters, on aeroplanes (or even in the newest strollers). Not a combination that makes you think immediately of sophisticated and luxury fashion Williams is now associated with, but a certainly unexpected transposition that, also thanks to the trends of the moment, worked perfectly. "There is a weight and a sound to it that maybe somebody wouldn't know is why they gravitate to it, but their senses do. And then there’s the fact that I discovered it at six flags magic mountain when I was taking my family there. That's the place in California that you go for graduation or a birthday, or you might kiss a girl for the first time, or get over your fear of heights. So, it kind of represents for me, a place of transition, of being a child in your teen. I like that idea of transition and so it meant those things for me as well", said the designer. 

Once off the roller coaster, Williams immediately contacted the manufacturer of those harnesses, asking to make a lighter version to be included in his debut collection. As the designer himself recounted, the buckle was chosen for its sculptural and very material shape, which immediately reminds of a utilitarian imaginary, to a trend that has made tactical vest, multi-function belt bags and tech sneakers its highest expression, a trend that Williams himself would later help to expand. 

The success of the buckle and of the Rollercoaster Belt was immediate and enormous, so much so that Williams proposed that buckle on sneakers, jewels, hats and items in all shapes and fabrics. A charm that would soon transcend the boundaries of his brand, reaching his long-time friend Kim Jones, who on the occasion of his debut at the helm of Dior Men asked Williams to design the hardware of the collection, proposing a buckle that echoed the initials CD and proposed on belts, caps, necklaces, backpacks and Saddle Bags, and starting an ongoing collaboration. It was Williams himself who brought the buckle with him at the time of the first collaboration with Nike, which saw in the Nike Air Force 1 High the maximum mixture of Nike and Alyx universes, united in a simple, ultra-minimal and chromatically essential silhouette, enriched and elevated by that buckle placed around the ankle. Once again it was the closure of the distinctive element in Williams' partnership with Moncler, that as part of the Moncler Genius project saw Williams give a contemporary and at times streetwear interpretation of the brand's iconic down jacket

In that elevated streetwear that Williams soon turned into functional luxury, the founder of Alyx and creative director of Givenchy has built a personal and unique language, for this reason extremely successful, unmistakable not only in for its look but also in the sound of that closure, in a fleeting moment when fashion and function come together