It was business vs. boho at Matthew Williamson today—and business had the upper hand. Eagle-eyed watchers will have noticed that last season, after fifteen years of floaty, chiffon-y, "I am just sunning myself in Ibiza" looks, there was a discernible shift in shapes, structures, and fabrics chez Williamson. For Spring, he built upon that new maturity: "My girl is growing up," the designer said. "She is no longer on a perennial vacation—she is in her thirties and forties now; she has kids, a job, and responsibilities. She is the same free spirit inside but, like the rest of us, maturing—and I have to respond to that."
To move forward, Williamson took a step backward, so to speak, and tossed out all of his computer-generated motifs; his prints were either hand-drawn or painted, and as a result everything looked more genuine. There was also much less float: That ship, for the most part, has sailed. Instead, there were more versatile daytime looks, as evidenced by printed banana-shaped trousers, and an abundantly wearable gray floral shift dress. For evening, there was also less of his usual red carpet fare and more options suited for a nice dinner after work. A sturdy black organza dress with white embroidered flowers showed a new restraint, while a soundly constructed peplum organza jacket with a chiffon overlay announced, "I am still a Matthew Williamson woman—just with a few gray hairs."
The abundance of colors and prints showed a reinvigorated business spirit; he's simply giving his huge fan base an abundance of choice. So, here is gray dip-dye if you wish; here is an indigo ikat; here is a Keith Haring-inspired print; here are some lemon yellow daisy looks. For those keeping a digital scorecard, all of this is enhanced by a revamped Matthew Williamson site, updated, somewhat ambitiously, daily.
But hard-core fans needn't fret too much—there was still plenty of the old Matthew in there: Dragonflies and flowers were well represented, as well as a couple of restrained chiffon gowns that had the likes of Sienna Miller and Paloma Faith clapping enthusiastically. Then there were the bright fuchsias and oranges. "Louise Wilson told me she wanted to see more of the 1997 show," Williamson said, referring to his debut collection, Electric Angels, with Kate Moss, Jade Jagger, and Helena Christensen—a moment that put him on the map. "And so I needed to reissue that."
We couldn't help but notice a brightly colored dress on the rack backstage, somewhat shapeless, festooned with embroidered flowers, colors, and sequins. Why didn't it make it on the runway? "Well," said Matthew, "I guess that is really the old Matthew Williamson. Onward, I suppose." Good thing, then, that maturity suits him.