When Matthew Williamson left off showing in London, he was the definitive mid-nineties king of boho, a designer whose scope could be easily described as a raspberry cardigan and a fluttery butterfly-print dress. On his arrival back on British soil, however, he presented a whole new slick profile to the audience who'd seen him grow up as a kid from Saint Martins; this is not the same guy who friends like Kate Moss and Jade Jagger used to visit by climbing a rickety staircase in High Holborn. A decade on, Williamson is back to celebrate London fashion week's 25th anniversary, transformed into a man with a brand.
In his time away in New York, Williamson learned something about putting on a show. Honed by exposure to that city's demand for brevity in design, this was a much more focused, slim-contoured collection consisting of leather-inserted polished-linen sheath dresses, super-skinny pants, and paper-bag-waisted shorts. There were certainly glimpses of the "old" clubbing-in-Ibiza phase of Williamson's development, in splashes of fluorescent green and the blue-cast UV light captured in a sheer skirt. But the styling these days tethers those tendencies to summer citywear, grounding a lime chiffon blouse with a teal leather skirt, and slipping the tonic shirt under a pantsuit.
Anyone expecting Williamson to break out a triumphal finale of flowery nouveau-hippie frocks was left frustrated. He could have made more of the opportunity to let himself go with a nostalgic parade of print-y, floaty things. In the event, there were only three draped orchid-patterned dresses, and the final one—long, strapless ruched chiffon with a pouf below the knee—looked more ballroom than barefoot in the sand.