Sports brands listen up, Sadie Williams wants in. A standout from Central Saint Martins’ MA degree show at London Fashion Week in February 2013, Williams’ name has since been tapped by Selfridges, Barbie and & Other Stories, with NEWGEN sponsorship following earlier this year.
For SS16 the designer returns to the Topshop/BFC backed scheme, presenting her new collection this weekend again at LFW.
“I couldn’t do this without (their) support!” she tells Clash, some time before the big day. “It means I have a platform to show my work, which I would not be able to afford otherwise. This does not only give me exposure but means that buyers can see my work,” she notes, adding the industry acknowledgement even attracts would-be interns – “my ace dream team” according to Instagram – who presumably make everything physically possible.
“The BFC also offer great business advice and mentoring which is so crucial and something I am learning to embrace in order to make this all happen,” she concludes of her luck, won with a predominant talent.
Of the collaborations that have come her way – awarded a ‘Bright Young Thing’ title from the big yellow store, invited to dress the iconic doll, and putting out a nine piece international collection – she asserts: “They are really ace ways to meet people, learn, allow your work to reach a wider audience and often offer some kind of financial stability too! I think they are super important; it’s a win win situation for everyone involved!”
At which point we arrive at the sports giants thing, an arena she claims would provide the dream collaboration. “It would be great to work on shoes with someone too!” she proposes; to date dealing with a palette primarily of red, blue and silver, either would make a match.
“I often work by layering/bonding fabrics,” she says, elaborating on her pieces, “so my work naturally lends itself more towards Autumn Winter, but I really love playing around and experimenting with textiles so it’s a fun creative challenge to consider the possibilities of something more suited to Spring Summer.”
This is the first time she’s formally designed for the season; what does her research look like? “I have dug out lots of old school photos and asked friends for images too, from when I used to make and customise my own outfits for discos at boarding school,” she replies, echoing a sentiment not dissimilar from Danielle Romeril and Mary Benson’s industry introductions.
“I also dug out some of these original garments as a reference,” she continues. “I wanted to combine this playful, partyish youthful spirit with the way in which I dress and approach clothes now, so I have lots of other research too including vintage garments I own and silhouettes of big skirts and simple shapes that work as a great canvas for my textile driven fashion.”
In the short time Sadie Williams proper has functioned as a label, such shapes have proven a requisite of its aesthetic; her graduate collection was aptly titled ‘Totemic’ while for AW15 lengths remained long. Inspired by the spirit of Ikebana flower arrangements, the latter maintained a robust attitude, due both to the silhouettes and bold applique; a world away from the fussy stereotype more traditional flower arrangements might encourage.
“For me it’s really key to edit and refine my ideas from the mass of images and information that I put together to create a visual world,” Williams offers, “in order to get across a clear vision of what I want to convey.”
Jamie Reid and Eddie Wrey will return to art direct and shoot the SS16 look book respectively, while the stylist Poppy Kain and set designer Suzanne Berine have also been brought on board as part of the sophomore line-up.
“The (AW15) collection and look book were received really well, so that was encouraging,” she recounts of last season. “I made a very small collection and hadn’t thought about it commercially at all, so it was great to create the work and decide that this is something that I would like to pursue; I was hesitant because it’s quite a daunting thing to start your own label.”
Having freelanced for several high profile brands since graduating, Sadie has perhaps a better understanding than some of the industry’s expectations, so such hesitations aren’t without cause.
And now? “I’m excited to get the work out there!”
Words: Zoe Whitfield