Inside the kitsch world of Ashley Williams, who shows for the last time with Fashion East tomorrow
Taken from the February issue of Dazed & Confused.
Walking cute-attack Ashley Williams, one of London fashion’s fastest rising upstarts, is now approaching her third and final catwalk show under the benevolent banner of Fashion East. Obsessed with pop culture, the 25-year-old mixes kitsch Americana, cartoons, slick 80s shapes and bold colours to make work that is refreshing, wearable and as happy-making as a yummy lollipop on a sunny day. We visited Williams at the Stoke Newington home she shares with best pal and fellow budding fashion luminary Pixie Geldof. Her Dalston studio was off-limits, she said, because it’s overrun with top-secret prototypes for her forthcoming AW14 collection. “It’s got horses on it,” was all she could divulge, “but it’s not like, ‘horsey’.” Williams’ room is cluttered in the best possible way: with neat rows of shoes, rails and piles of clothes, two framed Fiorucci posters from the 80s and a rarely played piano that “basically functions as an upmarket television stand.” We had a rummage and got the lowdown on a few of the designer’s favourite things...
SCARY LADY MASK
“It’s a scary one, this mask. I mean, I don’t find it scary, but everyone else gets freaked out by it. I scared the shit out of my boyfriend Lev with it once, which was really good. It’s the face of a hot 1940s woman, basically. It was used during Mardi Gras in New Orleans, where I bought it in an antiques shop. It’s so fragile yet it’s lasted all this time. Half of me just likes having it around and half of me plans to rip it off in some brilliant way somewhere down the line.
LOUBOUTIN COWBOY BOOTS
These are the wildest pair of Louboutins: not like what you’d expect. They’re pink satin cowboy boots, covered in crystals. I got them off eBay, and in the shops they were like, £2,000, but I got them for £200 brand new with the tag, in the box. I’ve never actually worn them before, because if you wore them once, they’d be fucked! They just look nice as an object - I like having them around. I’m waiting for the perfect occasion to wear them. I know the time will come.
ARC DE TRIOMPHE EARRINGS
We went to New York a couple of years ago, and we were looking in this antiques shop, on the Lower East Side, and I saw those earrings and was like: ‘Wow, they’re so nice but I can’t afford them.’ I figured I’d see how much money I had left at the end of the holiday. And then of course – it was a fun holiday! – I had none. I went by the shop anyway, just to look, and they had gone. But Lev had gone back there in secret and bought them for me! I just like them because I hadn’t seen anything like them before. They’re kind of silly: they’re a bit novelty but they’re also totally, dreamily beautiful.
TUNA THE TEDDY
This is an old leopard-print teddy-bear cat thing from the 1950s. It’s called ‘Tuna’. It’s a real muse of mine. The teddy- bear bags that I made were certainly inspired by this guy. I like teddy bears, and I didn’t just want to only ever hang out with them in bed, you know? The bags are basically just a way to get away with carrying a teddy bear in the street. People seem to like them. And I like them! It’s kind of a thing of mine now. People are always like, ‘Where are the teddy bags?’”