Who is the Matthew Williamson woman? She oscillates from season to season. Last time she was on a technicolor safari in Swaziland, but for A/W 2011 we are destined for chillier climes, necessitating survival anoraks (albeit in finest calfskin or tapestry), hefty hiking boots (with five-inch heels) and a veritable avalanche of silver-tipped fox. Matthew goes to Mongolia: that’s our story this winter.
Of course, as ever with Williamson, it was more Movida than Mongolia. And therein lies the answer to that riddle - the Williamson girl is the new Sloane Ranger, tawny of skin, glossy of mane, skinny of hip but fat of wallet. She’ll find rich pickings in this collection, filled with vibrant, ethnically inaccurate pattern redolent of the silk route, clashing colour and neat biker jackets perfect for a luxurious trekk across the Steppes in a four-by-four. All the standard Williamson signatures made their appearance, the short, embroidered and printed cocktail dresses, a few animal prints (this time leopard-spots in unnatural hues) and vibrant block colour. The contrasts of tomato and cyclamen here reminded one of the jarring hues of Williamson’s first collection back in the nineties - and they’ll easily be as popular this time.
We didn’t really expect anything new from Williamson - consistency is the name of his game, and his customer doesn’t really like her boat (or rather yatch) to be rocked. But so much of this collection felt like second-hand ideas we’ve already seen rehashed half-a-dozen times that it was hard not to settle into a stupor, despite the dazzling colour and intricately-worked surfaces. Of course, the Williamson customer wouldn’t think to venture into Balenciaga, the originator of much of what was on offer - or Topshop, even, where these styles have been doing the rounds for a good few years. Hence, Williamson has nothing to worry about from a commercial standpoint. Creatively, however, this collection felt like a stalemate.