Matthew Williamson's Northern Lights at LFW
There is a longstanding (if one-sided) love affair between me and Matthew Williamson. Each collection revives that love, through reliably bold and brave use of colour, heavy embellishment and travel-inspired influences. Williamson has managed to keep atop the fashion pile despite the fact his two key go-to looks (boho and Ibiza party chic) have had their day.
This change in the weather has driven the designer to look further afield for inspiration, and while his key defining factors remain - it's all about colour and embellishment - the parts of the world he turns to each season have expanded. This season, he described his collection as "English rose goes to the Northern Lights" and though the roses were evident throughout, he looked to Scandinavian folklore as much as he did to the Aurora Borealis.
Pompoms, embroidered trims, heavy brocades in a multitude of colours, chevron stripes and embroidered roses covered coats, skirts and separates. There were far fewer of the louche, floaty dresses for which the designer is known, instead there were heavy sequin-encrusted cocktail dresses, with an iridescent / holographic feel that mimicked the blue and green swirls of those entrancing night skies.
One ombre print was called 'Aurora', and came covered in deep indigo tassels, while the new bag du jour is the Frida, an embroidered brocade drawstring bucket bag that Net a Porter looks set to snap up. Huge cocoon coats would be perfect cold-weather statements, and everything was layered perfectly, building up primary colours with the inky shades of the northern lights.
Like many designers this year, there was a lot less print and a lot more texture - which from the man who bought us peacock feathers, bugs and butterflies and all manner of bohemian prints was a bit of a departure. But it worked, and this was a strong, bright collection that will impress Williamson fans and nay-sayers.