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Sadie Williams's Weird Science

The exciting new designer on mixing elegance with the bizarre

Taken from the May Issue of Dazed & Confused:

There’s something to be said for the way Central Saint Martins students can generate rich design from little resource. In the case of Sadie Williams, finding “tacky sparkly fabrics” was her way to a great textile. The 26-year-old put the flimsy Lurex through multiple treatments of bonding, printing and embossing to make it strong enough to hold up eight glittering, stately floorlength gowns ‑ high-impact eveningwear with an energetic, street edge.

“I like rare, funny things,” says the textiles graduate. Her “low weird threshold” means “staying on the good side of weird” is a tricky skill the MA helped to refine. “I start by finding a combination of things that excite me to create a personal visual world, which then determines the look and feel of a collection.”

While old-school bikers and their Harleys inspired this collection, so did a Japanese gang whose glittery motorcycles reminded her of arcades and pinball machines. To these references she applied a simple elegance (influenced by Valentino) that speaks of a dedication to producing designs that “can be appreciated for their beauty and sensibility.” With wonderful control over her own eclectic, eccentric style, she’s dodged the danger of alienating a wider following.

The born-and-bred Londoner says that formative years at Christ’s Hospital, a boarding school founded by Edward VI for the poor, contributed to her vision. Growing up in that “safe, removed and slightly bizarre” environment among “a mix of wealthy and poor teens still wearing Tudor uniforms” encouraged a divergent taste and a keen interest in fashion.

And she’s kept on going. Fresh from the MA show in February, Williams is now in New York working on a Marc by Marc Jacobs collection, as she pursues her aim of juggling freelance projects. Future employers will admire the modern, cheeky manner in which she manoeuvres together the creative and commercial – just look on the undersurface of her gowns, which were heat-pressed with loopback fabric (typically found in jogging trousers) to ensure “fussfree and comfortable” wear. “I have no plans for my own label, I think I would go mad,” Williams says. “But never say never.”

Mathias Sterner
Hair Alexander Soltermann using Kiehl’s
Make-up Angela Davis Deacon at Sue Allatt Creative using LancOme
Model Erika at Select
Photographic assistant Sergio Mosteiro