Icons of Bri­tish de­sign unite


Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - CONTENTS - Neale Whi­taker

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 ev­ery­thing match­ing. I go with 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 Whi­taker is ed­i­tor-in-chief of Vogue Liv­ing.

KALEI­DO­SCOPIC COLOUR Matthew Wil­liamson (above); the Duresta for Matthew Wil­liamson TCPIG TGƃGEVU VJG Bri­tish de­signer’s love of in­tense shades and eclec­tic style.

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