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Will You Give Matthew M. Williams a Chance?

Will You Give Matthew M. Williams a Chance?

His life in Paris was lonely at first. He moved here in 2020, in the early and most isolated days of the pandemic. Mr. Williams had always been nomadic, but now he was a newly divorced father, alone in a new city with a new high-pressure job who couldn’t easily travel to see his children. His two daughters, ages 5 and 8, live in London with their mother — Mr. Williams’s ex-wife formerly oversaw sales for Alyx — while his teenage son with a previous partner lives in the United States.

“I think the industry doesn’t really know me, who I actually am,” Mr. Williams said. “I think they have an idea of who I am from photo shoots” — perhaps from the Givenchy fragrance released earlier this year that was, somewhat unusually, named after him — “but I spend all my free time with my family, my kids, and then I work.”

When the girls visit (every other weekend, Mr. Williams said), they tend to the strawberry plant on the terrace’s garden that he began growing as a kind of single-dad hobby. He also takes cooking lessons.

If his life sounds quaint, bear in mind that he’s equally enthusiastic about a water filtering machine from Japan that he said keeps his blood at “a neutral pH.” “It’s like 3,000 or 4,000 euros, but then you never buy water,” he said.

New York City, which he recently visited for a Givenchy party, still feels the most like home to him, he said. The party was on the rooftop of the city’s new cool hotel du jour, Nine Orchard, though Mr. Williams went to Brooklyn afterward to see a show at a rave venue he likened to one of Ibiza’s massive clubs. New York is where he started Alyx, something he felt the curators of the Met Costume Institute overlooked when they didn’t include him in last year’s exhibition celebrating a wide swath of American fashion designers.

“I think sometimes maybe the Americans forget that I’m American,” he said.

“I don’t know if there’s a younger person in the industry that’s heading a maison,” he said, wondering out loud about the ages of Jonathan Anderson, the creative director of Loewe, and Demna, who designs Balenciaga.