The life of a fashion designer is more fascinating (and varied) than ever. Researching and designing the collections is the creative bit but then come the extras; production, promotion, collaborations, not to mention the social media and editorial that have become such solid components of building a brand.
Harrods has decided to explore the mystique around designers and their processes by giving us a behind-the-curtain peek into four British designers and their businesses. The Inside The Studio campaign launches this week with Matthew Williamson, followed in the coming weeks by Rupert Sanderson, Antonio Berardi and Alice Temperley. I’ve partnered with Harrods, trailing the crew as they filmed in the studios of Matthew Williamson. On arrival at the industrious Queens Park atelier, I was greeted by a production crew of 11 and a groaning breakfast table overlooked by a supersized photo of Kate Moss and Jade Jagger modelling the designer’s first ever ‘Electric Angels’ collection. Ever since that 1997 debut (rising from the ashes of the 90s minimalist era), I’ve loved the Williamson colour palette, always upbeat and slightly jarring but beautifully so.
As the Harrods crew set up their interview with Matthew and his muse, artistic director Georgie MacIntyre, I busied myself nosing around the studio, pattern cutters, mood boards and just-finished SS15 collection. Outfits were hung on rails ready to be styled with the appropriate jewellery and accessories in preparation for the London Fashion Week show. If you like colour, this looks like a joyous place to work – the bookshelves are colour-coordinated, there are evocative mood boards everywhere and even something as humble as a zip or a cotton reel becomes an excuse for some psychedelic colour-play…
In the Inside The Studios film, Matthew explains that his brand “has a super-clear DNA, it’s rooted in that sense of a bohemian jet-set sensibility. That’s always the cornerstone and the anchor to every collection. The challenge for me creatively is to move that forward.” Enter Georgie, whose encapsulates the brand with the kind of nonchalance that can rock mismatched prints one minute and a chiffon gown the next. As Matthew told me, “Georgie makes what I do slightly cooler than it would be without her!”
Matthew has become as famous for his legion of famous friends and social media followers as his hyper-natural prints and embroideries. He was late to the social media game but now thrives on the immediacy of the reaction he gets on Instagram. “It’s a pure brand to customer interaction and it’s become such valuable feedback,” he says. It’s interesting to me how designers have put themselves in front of cameras so readily, whether their phone cameras on Instagram, or film cameras for projects like Inside The Studio. Clearly, we all now know the value of storytelling, hence me, Harrods and Matthew Williamson grabbing every last nugget of information and insight as a potential piece of content.
The Inside The Studio campaign continues with more interviews and films to come from Rupert Sanderson, Antonio Berardi and Alice Temperley. Head over to Harrods.com to watch the stories unfold and follow the hashtag #HarrodsInsideTheStudio to join the conversation on social media.
Words and images: Navaz Batliwalla/Disneyrollergirl.net
*THIS POST WAS PRODUCED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH HARRODS*