ICONS OF BRITISH DESIGN UNITE IN A COLOURFUL COLLABORATION
There aren’t many things that make me homesick for England. I stopped missing chicken tikka masala pizzas years ago, and with Graham Norton on the TV here now, I’ve been feeling pretty much complete. Until I met Matthew Williamson.
The Manchester-born fashion designer was recently in Australia to launch his new furniture range with British manufacturer Duresta, and spending just a few hours with him made me – if not exactly homesick – more than a little bit nostalgic. Not just because of his gravelly Mancunian accent, or a wit so sharp it could draw blood, but because in Williamson I glimpsed a creative sensibility that is unapologetically English. An irreverent aesthetic that’s hard to define, but eclectic, exotic and confidently out of step with fashion. The likes of actor Sienna Miller and model Poppy Delevingne (who wears Williamson’s clothes) would doubtless agree.
US Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour rarely gushes, but she wrote of Williamson: “He has brought such joyful energy to the London fashion scene. He’s always been so clear about who he is – a designer who understands lifestyle as well as style – and who his young, beautiful customers yearn to be.”
That customer can now sit on a Matthew Williamson sofa or armchair, thanks to the new collaboration available through DOMO stores (domo. com.au). It’s a logical progression from the rugs, fabrics and wallpapers Williamson has been creating in recent years for brands such as Osborne & Little and The Rug Company.
Ask the designer about the inspiration behind his furniture and he’ll tell you the range was based on pieces he already had in his London home. Bespoke fabric choices – from plains to decorative motifs, like his favourite butterflies – all share his love of intense colour. “I have no rules,” he says. “I’m the antithesis of everythingh matching.h I go with h my instinct and I’m not afraid to mix things up and experiment.”
In two decades as a designer, Williamson has been largely influenced by his travels. This was his first visit to our shores and he loved it. He admits Australia may influence a future collection, but something tells me it wasn’t koalas or the Sydney Opera House that caught his eye. He was entranced by the brilliant purple trees flowering during his visit, and my money’s on seeing Sienna Miller – or perhaps a sofa – in jacaranda.
Neale’s objects of desire
If your experience of Santa Barbara only extends to vague pastel-hued memories of the ’80s daytime soap, it’s time to put this California city back on the map. A must-see stop on the breathtaking stretch of coast between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Santa Barbara’s Spanish colonial buildings, Mediterranean climate and laid-back appeal has made it a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. Then there’s the plethora of La-weary celebs who have traded big-city smog for fresh salty air – Oprah Winfrey, Tom Cruise and Ellen Degeneres are just some of the stars who have moved here. Full of history and charm, Santa Barbara dazzles all who drop by.