My anticipation grew. Not only at the thought that THE Colin McDowell –renowned fashion journalist, for those who don’t know, you should be ashamed- was appearing at the V&A, but also he was interviewing fashion designer Matthew Williamson, who has now released a coffee table book of his career, which I purchased and he personally signed, to me *grin*.
The talk began with an informal introduction of Williamson from McDowell. And then he entered; pristine and dressed immaculately with hair so great I almost had hair envy. Born in Manchester (a fellow Northerner) Williamson discussed how he went from a regular student studying at college to being accepted into Central Saint Martins at only seventeen to owning his own label making “hot, sexy clothes”. He now owns endless shops internationally as well as collaborating with Debenhams and H&M to make his clothes more accessible.
Over the entire interview there was a feeling amongst the audience that Williamson was a very down to earth man, quite the opposite of the fashion designer stereotype. And surprisingly enough Williamson was grounded: he spoke to me while signing my book and even posed for a picture with me but that aside, after the interview when my friends and I were outside having a natter and a cigarette, he approached us politely and asked to use a lighter to which he then engaged in another conversation with us. At that point I fell in love.
During the interview Williamson discussed how he differed from the other students “I didn’t conform to the way everyone else was”. He embraced colour, staying true to his vision, which later landed him a placement with Zandra Rhodes and then a job at Monsoon.
Williamson’s commitment to designing shines through in his clothing, and something that helped him shine through the masses when he was referred from Plum Sykes to Alexandra Shulman (prior to samples been sent to Sykes due to her “intriguingly original name”.
"When you say Matthew Williamson to a fashion follower, the immediate mental picture is of hot pinks, turquoise, lime jewel hues, embroidery and lace.” Colin McDowell.