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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Ikebana AW15: An interview with fashion designer Sadie Williams

Written by Amelia Gregory

Sadie Williams by Bonaramis
Sadie Williams by Bonaramis.

Fashion designer Sadie Williams was inspired by the 1962 Best of Ikebana book on Japanese flower arranging to create a bold and innovative AW15 collection that features multiple textile techniques and a glorious mash up of fabrics. Here she tells us more…

Sadie Williams AW15
Where did you study on BA and MA and what were the best aspects of your courses?
BA in Fashion Design at Brighton. Best aspects were the technical training this gave you, and the amazing tutorship of Jane Shepherd, who introduced us young, clueless first years to many many brilliant and inspiring aspects to this vast industry. She also and helped us to develop into stronger designers, and taught us that we should be unafraid of creating something extreme, bizarre or seemingly ‘anti-fashion’.

Sadie Williams AW15
MA on the ‘Textiles For Fashion’ pathway of the MA Fashion course at Central Saint Martins. This is where I finally felt like I found ‘my thing’, through lots of learning through mistakes! It was tough, but the best thing I have ever done. I feel honoured to have been taught by my textile tutor Fleet and the late great Louise Wilson.

Sadie Williams AW15
You’ve been much feted since your MA collection caught imaginations, what has been the best outcome of this?
Being able to continue working creatively and express myself and my vision, sometimes this is in collaboration with another brand or project and more recently under my own label. I have also loved being able to travel and meet so many brilliant people along the way. It’s all still very much a learning curve.

Sadie Williams AW15
Your collections are defined by sleek silhouettes, what is it about such graphic shapes that appeals to you?
For me, I really focus on creating the textiles, often quite laboured (multi-layered, printed, quilted, appliqued, embossed etc). I love clean simple silhouettes and feel that partnering them with my textiles is both cool and necessary way to present my work in a stronger and clearer way, and avoid the danger of fussy garments being overworked or theatrical.

Sadie Williams AW15
How do you source so many different types of metallic fabrics?
Always on the look-out! But also, I create a lot of different metallic fabrications through altering/re-working existing fabrics using various techniques, for example bonding shimmering transparent fabrics over satins or lurex, weaving metallic ribbons into fabrics, or stiffening flimsy loose-weave lurex by embossing and bonding it.

Sadie Williams AW15
What fabrics are your favourite kind to work with and why?
I think it’s clear that I rather like lurex! But honestly, I just really love working with all sorts of textiles. I love being set a project/job where I have to work with a fabric that I wouldn’t normally select myself, for example, one of my favourite projects form the CSM MA was working with lace, which I doubt I would ever have considered before.

Sadie Williams AW15
I understand you are in the process of moving studios, where is the new one and what would we see if we came to visit?
It’s in East London, Haggerston, right by the canal! There’s a lot of rolls of fabric! Shelves full of books and mags, lots of portfolio boxes, my heat-press, sublimation printer sewing machine, mannequin etc. Lots of crafty things like wire, plasticine, coloured acetates and tons of different kinds of papers (which I often use for making our animations). All the things I need to do what I do!

Sadie Williams AW15
I loved your latest collection, inspired by Ikebana flower arrangements, what was the process of translating the Best of Ikebana books into wearable garments?
It was more the idea of translating the spirit of those beautiful 1960’s images of floral arrangements into my work, rather than a visual translation. I liked the way that they were subtly vibrant, and very playful and fun yet so composed and still at the same time. I hope that makes sense! I worked with my friend Georgina Norris to create accompanying floral arrangements using the leathers that were featured in my collection, so we used these in my installation spaces at London and Paris fashion week, and I always intended to pair them up with imagery of my garments into a printed and digital lookbook.

How did you include techniques such as weaving, quilting and applique?
I wove together some brilliant vintage Indian ribbons that I sourced from a market stall in Shepherds Bush. In fact I bought up all his stock! I appliqued these as decorative patched onto the fronts of tops. I also used applique to apply metallic leather onto fine silk-prganza, which was actually pretty tricky and took a lot of sampling. It’s a multi-step process involving machine-sewing the leather and organza between layers of a specialist translucent quilting paper, which you can then tear away. I quilted a few lurex garments, by sewing around the print design through lyers of wadding and onto a backing fabric.

Sadie Williams AW15
Do you have any other collaborations with your brother Joe Williams on the horizon?
He is currently on a trip travelling for a few months, but we have an agent, and so when the right projects come up and we are both available, then yes! And I would love to work with him again to illustrate some of my own work again in the near future.

What’s next for Sadie Williams, can we expect another full collection next season and if so can you give us a clue about your new inspiration?
I am definitely going to be applying for NewGen sponsorship again for SS16, so fingers crossed! And I am afraid I’m going to keep my lips sealed at the moment!

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