Ever since he showed his acclaimed debut show ‘Electric Angels’ in 1997, Matthew Williamson has established a highly recognisable signature aesthetic. A master of print, embellishment and kaleidoscopic colour, the collections reflect a refined yet spirited sense of glamour, inspired by global and artistic influences. Today, this design DNA has translated seamlessly into interiors with a portfolio including Blakes Hotel and Aynhoe Park.
Matthew graduated from Central Saint Martins in June 1994 with a BA Hons 2:1 in Fashion and Print Design. He worked on various freelance projects including dance costumes for the Wayne McGregor company, Marni and Monsoon. He founded a partnership company with Joseph Velosa in September 1996. The company was based out of a flat on the Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1. By December 1996 the label was stocked in Browns London and Barneys New York and was given a one page Spy feature in UK Vogue’s January 1997 issue.
Matthew showed his acclaimed debut collection, ‘Electric Angels’, at London Fashion Week in September 1997. The debut show of only fourteen vibrantly coloured looks worn by models including Kate Moss, Helena Christensen and Jade Jagger made a huge impact on the fashion world, showcasing a taster of what was to come in the years to follow.
Matthew received two successive nominations for Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards, 1999 and 2000. The company celebrated its 5 year anniversary with a series of photographs taken by Rankin featuring celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Kirsten Dunst and Kelis. These photographs were then exhibited in a converted gallery space in West London in September 2002. The image of Jade Jagger was on the cover of Tatler magazine, October 2002 Vol. 297, Number 10.
In June 2003 the company collaborated with the Rug Company on a range of 4 rugs using prints from the ready-to-wear collections. The collections are sold at prestigious stockists worldwide to this day. Starting in September 2003, the company began collaborating with Coca-Cola on applying Matthew Williamson prints onto the iconic glass bottles. The first ‘Parrot Print’ bottle was so successfully received that the collaboration was extended to include three further prints which were launched in conjunction with the opening of the company’s first flagship store.
The company open its first flagship store at 28 Bruton Street, Mayfair, London in April 2004.
“Williamson’s arrival at No 28 Bruton St is like a bird of paradise fluttering into a brick-and-mortar London street.” – Suzy Menkes in The International Herald Tribune
In March 2005, Matthew was awarded the Moët and Chandon Fashion Tribute award. The award ceremony was attended by, amongst others, Sienna Miller, Keira Knightley, Jade Jagger and Helena Christensen and featured a catwalk show of the company’s archive collection.
In October 2005 Matthew was appointed Creative Director of the Italian fashion house, Emilio Pucci. Matthew divided his time between the UK and Italy during this time, creating the womenswear collections for both the Matthew Williamson and Pucci companies. Matthew worked at Emilio Pucci for 3 years.
In March 2007, Matthew was invited by the London Design Museum to curate an exhibition, which opened in October 2007. It featured highlights from his 10-year career.
In September 2007 the company celebrated its 10 year anniversary by returning to London Fashion Week after 5 years showing at New York Fashion Week. The show also featured a surprise performance by Prince who was in London on tour at the time.
Matthew was awarded Red Carpet Designer of the Year Award at British Fashion Awards in November 2008.
In February 2009, the company opened its first international flagship store at 415 West 14th Street, New York. This was followed by the opening of a third flagship store in June, located in the Mall of Dubai, UAE.
In April 2009, the company collaborated with H&M on a summer collection which comprised men’s and women’s ready-to-wear and accessories and was sold from H&M stores worldwide for a limited period. The collection was accompanied by an advertising campaign shot by Sølve Sundsbø with model Daria Werbowy.
The company collaborated with Bulgari on a range of handbags for the spring/summer 2011 season to be sold in Bulgari and Matthew Williamson stores worldwide.
Matthew was the first designer to show at London’s Tate Modern for his spring/summer 2012 collection. The show was opened by Dree Hemingway and closed by Anja Rubik.
The Duchess of Cambridge wore a tailored shift from the Pre Fall 2012 collection to attend the UK premiere of African Cats in aid of Tusk. Embroidered with turquoise and yellow beading at the cuffs and collar, the crepe shift became a signature style for the brand.
The brand celebrated its 15 year anniversary in 2012. The accompanying film, ‘XV‘ starred Sienna Miller, Poppy Delevingne and Andrea Riseborough. Directed by Tell No One, the film was shot at Aynhoe Park in Oxfordshire and features eight ballerinas from the Royal Ballet, choreographed by the acclaimed Wayne McGregor. To coincide with the film launch, Matthew created a limited edition collection in collaboration with Swarovski. The collection was available to buy exclusively at Net-a-Porter.com.
Matthew launched his first collection of furnishing fabrics and wallpapers for Osborne & Little in 2013. The annual collections are available worldwide through Osborne & Little showrooms and stockists.
In 2015, Matthew was commissioned to design the bridal suite of 17th century stately home Aynhoe Park in Oxfordshire.
In the same year, Matthew was commissioned by iconic hotel Blakes to design their summer courtyard. He collaborated with installation artist Rebecca Louise Law, transforming the space with objets d’arts and textiles from his Osborne & Little range. He has since re-designed the courtyard to form a permanent, lush oasis at the hotel in South Kensington, London.
In November 2016, Matthew hosted a dinner with Gwyneth Paltrow in celebration of his specially-curated Christmas tree, commissioned by the charity Kids Company. The 6m tree at aqua shard was bedecked in baubles from artists, designers and actors including Mary J Blige, Tom Dixon and Zaha Hadid.
Matthew’s first range of bespoke furniture launched in 2016, created in collaboration with Nottingham-based sofa manufacturer Duresta. In March 2017, Matthew launched the range in the USA at ABC Carpet & Home in New York. They created a suite that encapsulated Matthew’s aesthetic, using a rainbow palette and details to intrigue the eye. Matthew was joined by Sienna Miller, Lauryn Hill and friends from New York to launch the collection.
In recent years, Matthew’s design DNA has translated seamlessly into interiors. For summer 2017, he was commissioned to design the interiors of Nama Bar in Deià, Mallorca. 2018 saw the launch of Suite 67 at Belmond La Residencia. The latter was highlighted by Michelle Ogundehin in The Observer: “It is peppered with quirky touches which will no doubt become his interior hallmarks: a judicious use of colour, hand-painted vintage furniture and gloriously detailed wallpaper used unexpectedly on ceilings and inside cupboards.” A full collection of luxury home fragrance and candles has now launched with stockists including Fortnum & Mason and Amara.com.