A behatted Prince came late, sat down in the front row. Minutes later, his band filed out at the end of the catwalk and began to jam. Then his dancers Maya and Nandy McClean did their wanton hoochie koo, until they were joined by the singer's statuesque muse, Chelsea Rodgers. The only thing missing was the man himself. Would he? Could he? Ah, he could! He did! Left his seat, picked up his guitar, and played.
How did Matthew Williamson's Spring show come to begin with a performance by Prince? Chelsea is apparently a big Williamson fan, so her Svengali asked if he could open. That's not the only fortuitous thing that's happened to Matt from the Midlands lately. His company has just been infused with cash from a pair of investment funds, so there was understandably a heightened level of confidence on the catwalk, once Prince had returned to his seat, the audience had regained its composure, and the clothes began to appear.
The story was the (by now) familiar one of a stylish nomad traveling around the world with one bag (though, FYI, Williamson's windfall is allowing him to expand his accessories range). The conceit gave the designer the excuse to ladle on his signature ethnic details: Indian beads and pearls on a suede waistcoat, African raffia trim on a sequined top, a Mayan effect to the beading on a hessian shift, all enough to drive a magpie wild.
But that's scarcely anything new from Williamson. Maybe that's why the new confidence stood out best in the less gonzo girlie pieceslike the natural linens, or the silk blazers in blurry schoolboy stripes that had a batik-y flair. Better them than the mumsy muslin floor sweeper, one for the vestal virgin in all of us. It was a clunker even if it was hemmed in green sequins. Williamson managed a quick save with a finale of ruffled georgette party frocks. Now that's a girl he gets.