LIFE IN STYLE
Take a tour of designer Matthew Williamson’s rainbow-hued London home
FASHION DESIGNER MATTHEW WILLIAMSON HAS TURNED HIS RAINBOW-TINGED IMAGINATION TO THE HOME WITH STUNNING RESULTS
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. matthewwilliamson.com
A paper from Williamson's A/W 2018 collection for Osborne & Little (osborneandlittle.com) The Ostrich Feather lamp,
A Modern Grand Tour ( amoderngrandtour.com)
“There's nothing more exciting
than putting on a show”
Tango sofa by Matthew Williamson for Duresta ( duresta.com) ISLAND LIFE A M AT T H E W
WILLIAMSON-DESIGNED INTERIOR FOR NAMA BAR
IN DEIA , MALLORCA A quirky flamingo-style side table by Williamson for Duresta ( duresta.com) 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