Take a tour of de­signer Matthew Wil­liamson’s rain­bow-hued Lon­don home


Even the most com­mit­ted min­i­mal­ist couldn’t help but smile on en­ter­ing fash­ion de­signer Matthew Wil­liamson’s apart­ment. The hall­way is painted a vivid neon pink that casts a rosy glow and pro­vides a back­drop to all man­ner of travel me­men­tos, from straw hats to flo­ral gar­lands and gilded mir­rors. It’s also a por­tent of what’s to come in the rest of his two-bed­room home in north-west Lon­don.

Wil­liamson doesn’t do neu­trals; there are bursts of rain­bow colours in ev­ery room. The grandly pro­por­tioned sit­ting and din­ing room, for ex­am­ple, has bay win­dows with ca­nary yel­low frames, a ca­pa­cious turquoise vel­vet sofa and a chim­ney breast cov­ered with par­rot-print wall­pa­per.

“I would call my look or­gan­ised bo­hemia,” he says. “Peo­ple laugh at me be­cause I have all these vin­tage pieces and knick knacks around me at home, but my cush­ions have to be in the right place. They’re cur­rently not and that’s driv­ing me crazy. I like there to be a sense of or­der.”

While Wil­liamson ad­mits his home is ‘done’, there’s none­the­less a ran­dom, ef­fort­less qual­ity to it. Much like his de­sign sig­na­ture, it draws on the lure of far-flung lands and the louche glam­our of the jet­set in decades gone by.

“I was born in Manch­ester - quite cold and grey - and there wasn’t a lot of colour, so go­ing to places like In­dia and Brazil was cre­atively en­er­gis­ing,” he ex­plains. “The cul­ture and crafts­man­ship be­came part of the DNA of my look, but it has its roots in many things like my mum’s ap­proach to fash­ion and meet­ing Jade Jag­ger and her in­flu­ence.”

Jag­ger mem­o­rably mod­elled jewel-coloured dresses from Wil­liamson’s first col­lec­tion along­side Kate Moss and He­lena Christensen in 1997. The show lasted just seven min­utes and fea­tured eleven out­fits but the su­per­model stamp of ap­proval helped to cat­a­pult the Matthew Wil­liamson la­bel to com­mer­cial suc­cess. His op­ti­mistic, bo­hemian style has changed lit­tle since - un­usual in an in­dus­try that de­mands some­thing new at least ev­ery six months.

“We’ve never been a trend-led brand and I’m not tempted to curve­ball any­more and try and do some­thing that’s sup­pos­edly re­ally cool and hap­pen­ing,” he says. “I don’t think you can be ev­ery­thing to every­one; I’ve learned that you should do what you’re good at re­ally well. I think my strength is colour, print and eclec­ti­cism.”

And re­silience; in re­cent years he has moved his busi­ness

CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP LEFT: The ochre-coloured din­ing area houses a mix of real and faux plants; Wil­liamson's up­scale boho look has DIY touches – he made the fringed lamp­shades him­self; a rain­bow of books; the glam­orous mas­ter bed­room OP­PO­SITE: The par­rot wall­pa­per on the chim­ney breast in the sit­ting room is one of his de­signs

from the cat­walk to the couch, quite lit­er­ally. The Au­tumn / Win­ter 2015 col­lec­tion was the last that the la­bel shipped to global stock­ists and its swish May­fair flag­ship closed in July 2016.

“There’s noth­ing more ex­cit­ing than putting on a show but I’m less stressed with­out that bian­nual slog and the con­stant fash­ion cy­cle, which I’ve been do­ing for the past 20 years,” Wil­liamson says, his lan­guid north­ern voice at odds with his sharp, oth­er­worldly fea­tures.

“A lot of fash­ion re­porters have re­ferred to the changes in the busi­ness as a down­size but ac­tu­ally it’s the op­po­site of that. We have taken a big pivot from say­ing ‘let’s make clothes’ to ‘let’s stretch and do some­thing more.’” That some­thing more is an at­tempt to trans­form the Matthew Wil­liamson la­bel from a pur­veyor of pretty, boho-glam clothes into a fully fledged lifestyle brand, with a new home fra­grance col­lec­tion join­ing his furniture range for Duresta, and the fab­ric and wall­pa­per ranges he al­ready pro­duces for Os­borne & Lit­tle. Set to launch this Septem­ber, the boldly coloured and pat­terned can­dles and room dif­fusers will also be for sale on Wil­liamson’s newly re­vamped web­site, along with trans-sea­sonal wom­enswear, ac­ces­sories and gift items. He has also added in­te­rior de­sign to his list of ac­com­plish­ments, dec­o­rat­ing ho­tel suites at Ayn­hoe Park in Eng­land and, most re­cently, Bel­mond La Res­i­den­cia in Mal­lorca. Both have the jolly-yet-glam­orous vibe of his Lon­don apart­ment.

“We’re still mak­ing clothes and we’re still a crazily busy team, but I wanted to in­tro­duce new pas­sions that I’ve had as I’ve aged, one of which is in­te­ri­ors,” Wil­liamson ex­plains. “It feels like the right time to im­merse my cus­tomer in this world. I’m as­sum­ing that if she buys a Matthew Wil­liamson dress, she’ll prob­a­bly want a but­ter­fly mar­bled arm­chair to sit on and some par­rots on her wall... who knows?”

He clearly knows his cus­tomer and has long had the abil­ity to at­tract a harem of high-pro­file sup­port­ers. Wil­liamson is hop­ing that his client base will make the leap from bricks to clicks, and fash­ion to home, with him.

All around his own home there are hits of colour (pink, green, turquoise, yel­low) and pat­tern on walls, floors, paint­ings and fab­rics. Furniture is eye-catch­ing and eclec­tic; sil­hou­ettes from di­verse eras (Ro­coco, Vic­to­rian, Fifties) are cov­ered in kalei­do­scopic prints in­clud­ing Wil­liamson’s sig­na­ture but­ter­fly mo­tifs and ab­stracted feath­ers. Many of the pieces are his own de­signs or DIY re­vamps (a high street lamp­shade up­dated with boho fring­ing; brightly-painted vin­tage din­ing chairs).

While the ‘scale and great bones’ of the mid-19th Cen­tury build­ing at­tracted Wil­liamson to the apart­ment, he has also rad­i­cally re­vamped the lay­out, re­mov­ing an en­suite bath­room to make the mas­ter bed­room big­ger and tak­ing part of the for­merly ‘huge’ kitchen to create a se­cond bed­room and a shower room.

Al­though the new gal­ley kitchen has white units and walls, it cer­tainly isn’t short on per­son­al­ity. Cobalt blue pen­dants add a kick of colour and even in this func­tional space Wil­liamson has demon­strated his knack for dis­play­ing jolly vin­tage finds (tea cups, plates, tins) en masse. His home boldly and beau­ti­fully shows that style isn’t about con­form­ing to fads or fol­low­ing oth­ers; it’s about ex­press­ing your­self and cel­e­brat­ing what in­spires you.

A paper from Wil­liamson's A/W 2018 col­lec­tion for Os­borne & Lit­tle (os­borne­an­dlit­ The Os­trich Feather lamp,

A Mod­ern Grand Tour ( amod­ern­grand­

“There's noth­ing more ex­cit­ing

than putting on a show”

Tango sofa by Matthew Wil­liamson for Duresta ( IS­LAND LIFE A M AT T H E W


IN DEIA , MAL­LORCA A quirky flamingo-style side ta­ble by Wil­liamson for Duresta ( n so m ia ill W w e ) th m at co M n. , so le m nd ia ca ill ic w m e w ra th ce at ta m ( es Si er m m Su

“I’ve learned you should do what you’re good at re­ally well. My strength is colour”

“I'm as­sum­ing that if she buys a Matthew Wil­liamson dress, she'll want a but­ter­fly mar­ble arm­chair to sit on and some par­rots on her wall”

FROM TOP: A eclec­tic selec­tion of ob­jects in the hall­way; Wil­liamson painted the pea­cock rat­tan chair in the hall­way to match the in­tense colours of the wall

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