Ashley Williams is one of the Britain’s most promising young fashion designers. Her designs are highly acclaimed and have a celebrity following, worn by the likes of Alexa Chung, Pixie Geldof and Georgia May Jagger. This weekend Ashley is in Birmingham, with a special instillation showing as part of Selfridge’s Live + Loud festival.
I was lucky enough to have a chat with the very busy lady as she arrived for the festival. We chatted about all things Art, fashion and fishnet tights…
Fashion-mommy: I believe you have just shown your third collection at London Fashion Week – how was that?
Ashley Williams: It was really good – working with Newgen for the third time. It is enjoyable, but when you are showing on the final day you don’t really get that much time to experience the week as such, it is all work and final prep. That said, that’s the way I like it.
FM: You say that your interest in fashion was first influenced by punk and rock, is that still the case?
AW: For the last collection yes, it was still very important as a starting reference point, but, in general it is not always important now, but it definitely got me interested.
FM: Who were your design influences then/now?
AW: My influences for a collection can come from just about anywhere, it can be hard to pinpoint just one thing. Lots of things come together to create the influence – it can be a person, a place, an object, a place in time or an emotion. I think my favourite influence in terms of a designer is Stephen Sprouse. I like how he meshed Art and fashion together. A lot of people say fashion isn’t an art form, but I think he proved that it most definitely is.
FM: I was interested to see your collection is stocked in Hong Kong. There does seem to be Japanese/Far east influences in some of your work – is this a big influence?
AW: I did do a collaboration with Coca Cola that was very influenced graphically by Japan and Korea, I loved the way it looked. There is definitely a market for my kind of stuff in Japan and I love the way they look and dress, and also their outlook on new designers. The Japanese are not scared of new designers, they are totally open to new ideas and don’t need them to be validated as I sometimes think is the case in London.
FM: You have a celebrity following, who else would you love to wear you designs?
AW: Lana Del Rey, that would be lovely – if she ever did.
FM: Tell me a little about your Live+Loud instillation (in collaboration with ICA and Selfridges).
AW: The idea started with a print from my latest collection, a fishnet tights print. The print is blown up to be big (it is a small print on clothing) so that it distorts and changes it so that it looks different. I wanted to take the print out of context so that it no longer looks like fishnet tights at all, but graphically it still looks nice standing alone. In addition we have a film of a friend of mine wearing a dress with the original print to contrast. There will also be other prints and objects too.
FM: Why did you want to be involved in Live+Loud?
AW: When I spoke to Matt (Williams) from ICA it just sounded so interesting. I’ve never been to Birmingham before and liked the idea of doing something away from London. Also there were a lot of people involved who I had worked with before and who I admire and respect, so this was a big pull for me.
FM: What do you think of Birmingham – first impressions?
AW: I’ve only been here a short while, but I definitely want to take a look around Birmingham, from what I’ve seen so far it looks great. The part of Birmingham the festival is based in is full of old, industrial buildings which I find really beautiful, so I’m looking forward to seeing more.
FM: What are you most looking forward to about Live+Loud?
AW: Seeing it all finished and then seeing people’s reactions to it. I think it is going to be a really fun weekend.
*With thanks to Clive Reeves PR and Ashley Williams.