Matthew on BBC Radio 2
On Saturday 3rd September, Matthew joined his friend Fearne Cotton on her BBC Radio 2 show with Martin Kemp. They discussed his career highlights, design process and the power of colour. Read on for highlights and listen to the show here.
Who were your inspirations when you were a kid?
“I grew up in the seventies in Manchester. Ossie Clark was one of my heroes alongside Zandra Rhodes – another eclectic, decorative designer. I was drawn to those ornate, decorative, bohemian-influenced designers. I loved Christian Lacroix.”
“I love my mum and her style. Her influence was huge and still is. To me, she was like a firefly in a sea of grey. She really cared about what she wore.”
So looking back over the past 20 years, what highlights jump out?
“Wow, well there’s quite a few but I guess appropriately one of my highlights was music-based. It was a London Fashion Week show at least 10 years ago… I was getting the models ready the day before in a hotel suite and one of my staff came up and said, “Prince wants to perform tomorrow night at your show”. I kind of ignored this crazy idea and said, “yeah, yeah sure.” I thought, “I’m going to carry on doing my job” but she came back saying, “you know, he really is keen” so I said “look, if his team or his guys come to the hotel around 6 o’clock then we can talk…” Sure enough, 6 o’clock came and an army of people arrived… I still didn’t believe it was going to happen. I remember ten minutes before the show he still wasn’t there… Then I was chatting with Anna Wintour and I saw see this tiny character walk in behind her so I sort of nudged her out of the way. I said, “sorry Anna, I just have to go and say hi to Prince!” He opened the show. It was definitely a highlight.” Watch the video of Prince’s performance below!
Another amazing moment in your career was designing Kelis’ wedding dress?
“Yes that was a moment! She was a friend of mine for many years. She was a massive influence and inspiration. I love her music. She asked me to make a dress for her wedding to Nas. I remember her saying I want to look like the colour of a green grape… I bought all these tones of green, stapled them to a piece of paper and asked her to pick one. She said “I want them all in the same dress” so I had to slice this chiffon corseted gown with literally hundreds of different tones of green. It was a little extreme but she loved it.”
How do you decide what your next theme is going to be?
“One falls off the next… It’s a never-ending, constant research process. It’s never a set formula: I could be finding ideas today out and about. We don’t mastermind, it’s quite organic and then we start the design process with a mood board. Once we know what the theme is – whether that be a country, culture or piece of art – we build the mood board and then begin a very long process of the patterns and the colours. But as you say, colour is such a key part of my work. I love colour theory: the idea of how to wear colour and how it can change your mood, uplift your spirits. I think people can react differently to what you wear based on the colours you choose.”
Prince Performs at Matthew Williamson’s SS08 Show
London Fashion Week September 2007