H&M and Co’s collabs have been coming in thick and fast over the last few weeks from Eddy Anemian’s (sold out online but still lingering on the shop floor as far as I can tell having to Alexander Wang’s overnight frosty queue smash hit and now comes another, not from H&M directly but from their sister subsidiary brand & Other Stories, which just recently debuted their first New York store.
& Other Stories’ collaborations (or in their speak – “Co-Lab”) have traditionally speaking been kept mostly on the down low, choosing to go down the small and condensed route. Unless you’re a press release junkie, they pop up sometimes without much prior warning, surprising you a little as you’re browsing in-store. The tact has changed somewhat, since bringing on the likes of Vika Gazinskaya and Lykke Li to create co-lab collections. Gazinskaya’s sold out in a day and I reckon we can expect the same success from Sadie Williams, despite her only real output being her MA collection from Central Saint Martins.
But what an MA collection it was. Explosive, dazzling (quite literally) and most importantly, memorable, from that one collection of bonded lurex embossed floor-length gowns inspired by Japanese motorcyclist motifs, Williams went on to take part in Selfridges’ Bright Young Things project last year as well as dressing up Barbie up in further re-iterations of her “Totemic” gowns. Then & Other Stories came calling, giving Williams the opportunity to explore fabrications she had developed during her MA before settling on what is now her signature stiffened embossing technique. “I am aware that the embossing technique can be stiff and awkward and not to everyone’s taste,” explained Williams over email. “Instead I introduced more fabrics and considered how to combine these together or treat them in a way that makes them special, modern yet desirable and wearable too.”
The result is a capsule collection that introduces Williams’ preoccupation with folk clothing to combine with her well-established love of retro sports graphics. “I’ve long had an interest and love for folk clothing/textiles and vintage sportswear/print design; so I wanted to develop these interests in a contemporary way whilst capitalising on my natural inclination towards working with colour and geometric patterns,” said Williams. “I also found great inspiration from the eclectic aesthetic of the ‘Rebel Youth’ photographed by Karlheinz Weinberger in 1950-70’s Switzerland. I really love the way the subjects mix textures and embellish or layer their clothes in such a youthful, free-spirited and sincere way.” Folksy cream wool backs and big Gunne Sax-esque skirt shapes are combined with Williams’ metallic and glittery touches – from metallic foil prints, metallic thread applique on neoprene and the mesmerising printed tulle overlaid over the lurex that almost looks like a 3D print. Every detail has been inflected with a a whole lotto glitter from the stitch finishing on the cuffs/hems to the elastic lurex ribbing.
“I did a lot of materials sourcing and sampling here in London and sent & Other Stories over a big pack with all the fabrics, and textile techniques and finishing details,” said Williams when asked about the process of developing the fabrics. “We would communicate with each other via email/post and sometimes I would take trips to Sweden and we would develop the materials further, or respond to problems that would occur, depending on feedback from the company or the factories they were working with. & Other Stories have been incredibly supportive in making sure that the best results possible have been achieved and I feel that my vision for the collection has very much been achieved with minimal compromise.”
The real takeaway point is that from a collab priced between £29 and £195 (for the super swishy and hefty printed jumbo lurex skirt I’m wearing in the first outfit), you’re getting a lot of wowzer detailing. By now you’ll know that I’m an instant sucker for a lot of visual bang for my buck. And in this instance the bang is all of Williams’ WOW-POW graphics and textiles development that are immediately eye-catching. The collection goes on sale this Thursday on Stories.com and in & Other Stories stores (excluding Berlin Kudamm, Brussels, Cologne, Rome and Paris Montmartre). Best bet would be the website me thinks…
In the meantime, Williams has also been keeping busy exploring further extensions of that phenomenal MA collection with custom pieces for fashion editorials as seen below, which is a slow yet steady build up to what we all hope will be a solo outing. With that said, let’s bring on the drumroll please… she’s moved into a new proper studio (“not a bedroom slash studio!”) and has begun the very early stages of designing a small AW15 collection and she’ll be documenting the process on her new Instagram account. Wham bam thank you ma’am!