MAD Paris Designer Series: 1017 ALYX 9SM
In life, and even more so in fashion, it would seem that time is the ultimate luxury. How appropriate then, that one of fashion’s biggest (and busiest) names would partner with Browns to bring you the apex of modern luxury - two limited edition Audemars Piguet watches, designed by 1017 ALYX 9SM founder (and Givenchy creative director) Matthew Williams, in collaboration with customising powerhouse MAD Paris.
For part one of our MAD Paris Designer Series, Williams adapts his utilitarian approach to one of the world’s most sought after watch models in both a 39mm yellow gold and 41mm rose gold, introducing us to a totally minimal brushed back alternative not seen in the watch world before.
For such a sublime technical feat, it seemed only fitting to pair Williams’ craftsmanship with a similarly forward-thinking collaborator in the fashion tech space. Founded in 2020, Institute of Digital Fashion are making it their mission to increase diversity and inclusivity in fashion - harnessing the power of technology as a solution to not just sell more clothes, but to completely disrupt the way the system works. Like Williams, their aesthetic signature is both luxurious and avant garde, as demonstrated by the artworks created here by Anatolik Belikov. Meeting digitally for the first time, IoDF co-founder Leanne Elliott interviews Williams about the process of bringing such a unique artefact to life.
LE: Can you talk us through the process of creating these watches, from concept to fruition?
MW: The customization process, especially technically, is very different, but in the end it’s all about creativity; taking an idea and seeing through til it becomes tangible. Although there aren’t many common points in the two design processes [designing collections vs. designing a luxury watch], there is always a creative conversation from the thinking to the making.
LE: Which details would you say are most evocative of your design signature and why?
MW: The world of 1017 ALYX 9SM is translated via the brushed metal, having no time identifier and, of course, the buckle clasp.
LE: A luxury watch is so much more than an embellishment or an accessory. Can you explain what an item like this represents to you, both in a fashion context and beyond?
MW: It's a timeless item in all worlds. It represents exploring the 1017 ALYX 9SM world and creating a watch I would like to wear. Creating a watch for like minded people; myself and my friends. People that might not have been into watches before.
LE: A luxury watch is considered to be an heirloom for future generations. Your label is also named after your eldest child. When thinking about the future of fashion, what do you envisage?
MW: 1017 ALYX 9SM is built on the concept of high-quality materials mixed with subversive culture and modern craftsmanship, commitment to detail, innovation and the desire to push new ideas forward. I think the role of fashion is to push these new ideas forward and create creative conversations and meaningful connection.
LE: Institute of Digital Fashion are on a mission to increase diversity and inclusivity - using technology as a democratic tool for change. What do you see as the role of technology in progressing the industry?
MW: Technology has given an easier access point to the fashion industry and opened many new pathways for young creatives.
LE: How do you see the relationship between IRL and URL experiences developing in the future?
MW: There will always be something special about the physical event of bringing people together, but meaningful connections can be made online in different ways.
LE: When designing, how do you balance being on-trend and timely with creating products that stand the test of time?
An evolution more than a revolution is the way we work with 1017 ALYX 9SM, developing a language with the collections which we continue to develop season after season.
LE: What does it mean to you to launch a project like this with Browns? What does Browns represent to you?
MW: MAD Paris and I have collaborated for a few years now, and Browns is a long time supporter of 1017 ALYX 9SM, and an institution in London.
Artwork by Anatolik Belikov
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