Ashley Williams skipped London Fashion Week last season, opting to instead show in Seoul, and the return to her hometown clearly had her cast in nostalgia, more so than a spirited look towards the future as you might have expected from a first-of-the-decade showcase. A look back manifested itself not so much as a run of previous highlights, but a collection steeped in the space she’s explored previously. Those fond of her hair clips, retro knits and colourful sportswear will be pleased to see them for next season, too.
She explains backstage that as she grows as a designer she’s looking to pieces that offer a more sensitive, purposeful meaning to the collection, which could also explain the nostalgic element. Williams’s address to sustainability was to repurpose deadstock in new shapes and phrasing – as we’ve seen her do in the past. This time, the endeavour was helped along by the creative touch of Williams’s peer, Claire Barrow (who also walked the show).
Once the former had rehashed old pieces together, the latter was employed to bring in her touch, which has always veered into darker territory than Williams’s prefered cartoonish graphics. The collaboration was most visible in the final look, which was created from “a shape we’ve done in the past, but now using old samples, deadstock and even some of my old vintage clothes,” she reveals.
Again, Williams gave hint to the eveningwear potential her brand could have, with natty party dresses missing embellished cut-outs or the kind of floor-length red-carpet dresses Hollywood’s next generation should be queuing up for. “Initially, it came from me [wanting to explore that], people responded really well to it and I really enjoy doing it and as a designer, it’s actually really fun,” she explained. Ashley Williams has always been a brand about having fun, with a touch of off-kilter eclecticism. Going forward, she’d be wise to follow that feeling.