London Uprising Book
Sarah Mower and Tania Fares have joined forces to create London Uprising. Published by Phaidon, the book gives an unprecedented insight into a kaleidoscopic, dynamic world of creativity and enterprise and an essential read for fashion insiders and anyone serious about understanding the business of fashion in the twenty-first century. The exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of British fashion studios includes chapters on 50 leading designers: from Stella McCartney to Paul Smith. Here, we give you an extract from Matthew’s, as edited by Susanne Madsen:
Inside an anonymous courtyard in Queen’s Park, off the tree-lined Salusbury Road with its bookshops and artisanal bakeries, Matthew Williamsonʾs exuberant, carefree bohemia spreads its peacock feathers in a high-voltage tropical paradise. Jewel-coloured upholstery and ostrich-plumed palm tree lamps abound on a backdrop of neon parrot and pineapple wallpaper from the designer’s collaboration with Osborne & Little, and the space has been feng shuied for extra feel-good vibes. It houses the team who design and sell Williamson’s floaty, slinky, botanical psychedelia through the brand’s website, private appointments (in a flamingo-print, twinkle-lit room) and exclusively to Net-a-Porter.
In the late Nineties and early Noughts, Williamson became court dressmaker to a tribe of women who were drawn like fireflies to his hand-beaded slip dresses and sparkly, diaphanous butterfly chiffon – an antidote, he says, to the period’s severe, androgynous mood.
“I have very happy memories of that time. It was fresh, we were new to it, we were young. It had a sort of zeitgeist innocence around it that drew people in.”
His BFF Sienna Miller came to personify the bohemian chic look, and today, a new generation of glamorous Turbo Sloanes – Poppy Delevingne, the Manners sisters – still flock to Williamson for his vibrant India-Ibiza-Marrakech-Bali aesthetic, in the making since his early teens when he’d envisioned his name in pink letters.
“What I love is often drawn from nothing to do with England and that in itself is quite English because if you pile it all together it becomes quite eclectic and patterned.”
Does he ever think about why he’s so attracted to colour? “I don’t think it’s necessarily that I’m a tormented soul with real issues and therefore this is countering… It’s not that. [The label] was born from a passion for creating things that made people smile. And to this day that’s why I do it. Women come up to me and talk about not just the dress but where they wore it and what happened that night, because it’s about optimism, it’s about energy.”
And, he says, he won’t be bringing out black trouser suits anytime soon.
“The label was born from a passion for creating things that made people smile. And to this day that’s why I do it.”
London Uprising: Fifty Fashion Designers, One City by Sarah Mower and Tania Fares is published by Phaidon.