Wonderland.

LFW: Ashley Williams SS16

“I’m In A Bad Mood”

Ashley Williams’ show notes were a raging, semi-poetic diatribe against her previous work – “peopled with impossibly perfect princesses” – and against the fashion industry’s preoccupation with perfection and good taste. The new Williams girl is, she says, “a beautiful carcass”, a phrase super-charged with meaning that does kind of suggest a problematic and perverse sexualisation of dead women…But the meaning Williams probably intended, and the one the clothes convey most strongly, is that of corrupted and queer beauty: beauty that is jagged, that flaunts conventions of taste, and that is, most of all, angry.

“These Girls Hang Out With Laura Palmer’s Beautiful Blue Bones”

But how did this unusually fierce conceptual backdrop manifest itself in the designs? Well, it was occasionally about juxtapositions and contrasts; an elegant, bias cut black dress with a plunging neckline that descended into sexed up fishnets below was just the tip of a very rebellious iceberg. But most of the time it was brazenly ugly and deliberately provocative: fishnets (and printed fishnet motifs) were everywhere, sometimes under red PVC skirts, sometimes making up whole outfits with their exposing, grungy, diamond shape patterns. A recurring motif consisting of swarms of flies cropped up in any number of pieces, providing a very literal play on the “beautiful carcass” remark that was certainly shocking, if not terribly appealing.

Does this sequined, bull-horn tiara go with my dress?

Accessories were purposefully chosen for their bizarre incongruity: elven pyjama hats in black and red emo-stripes flopped limply on top of heads while pink fluffy-toy looking things (possibly bags, possibly just fluffy-toys) found themselves being held by several models. The words “Bad Mood” were scrawled and printed over lots of the tops and dresses, and this was really the most prominent message from this collection. Individually, many of the pieces were wearable if not traditionally beautiful – the fly print will becomes less disturbing when it doesn’t saturate a whole outfit – but you get the sense that making things wearable in a conventional context would be anathema to Williams: if you hate this collection just remember, it’s definitely for those who don’t care what you think.

Photographer: Thurstan Redding

Words: Benji Walters

LFW: Ashley Williams SS16

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