ashley williams always reminds us to take things less seriously
This season Ashley Williams told us to aim for the stars, aim for the gutter, make our parents proud, make our parents ashamed. Just relax.
Photography Mitchell Sams
“Retired and loving it” was the prevailing message of Ashley Williams spring/summer 19. Printed across swimsuits, jumpers, cardigans, dresses and accessories, these words, combined with the multifarious mix of influences and styles, carried a message of reassurance to anyone feeling the grind of London life. In fact, as the show notes explained, this collection was inspired by a trip to the Dorset coast in search of peace and quiet to knit cardigans and mohair jumpers. When life gets too much, when everything seems a bit too formal, a bit too considered, Ashley told us there’s no shame in packing up and retreating.
Since her formative days on the Fashion East roster, Ashley’s designs have cleverly commented on modern life. Whether that be through Kate Bush lyrics or Bart Simpson cut-outs, each collection is informed by an eclectic array of tongue-in-cheek references. Though in good company on the London schedule, when looking from New York to Milan to Paris it’s always reassuring to see this consciousness and humour.
The combination of newspaper prints and sheer fabrics this season felt like a clever metaphor for our culture of news and truth, transparency increasingly hard to find, yet news more overwhelmingly present than ever. Words such as “don’t know, don’t care”, “damaged woman”, “beach bum” and “damaged angel” were also woven into different items of clothing and accessories, nothing explicitly tying them together other than an anarchic sense of freedom from the previously mentioned daily grind.
Opened by The Florida Project’s Bria Vinaite, the casting was as ever on point. As was the styling, done by i-D’s very own Julia Sarr-Jamois. The show carried all the elements of Ashley we’ve come to expect, but what felt like the most unifying theme of the whole collection could roughly be described as 80s prom queen gone wild. Ruffles, exposed shoulders, gelled-up top-knots (a little reminiscent of trolls), heavy eyeliner, dangling diamante earrings in shape of skeletons or the words "100% evil", mini mohair bags, high waisted trousers, zebra prints, the words “justice” and “fear” on scrunchies… It felt like the cast of Heathers were walking us through their outfits to seek bloody revenge in.
“Always stuffing our face with no sympathy / Just looking out for myself / When the price paid is the life of something else / NO MORE, I won’t participate” go the lyrics of No More by Youth of Today, as referenced in the show notes. What could more perfectly surmise the energy and anarchy of this collection and its desire to set us free from the shackles of modern life.
Photography Mitchell Sams