After taking a break, Ashley Williams returned the London catwalk for the first time since COVID-19. Lockdown got her thinking about other pandemics, namely the bubonic plague, and she designed her eclectic collection with medieval England in mind.
Medieval clothing, especially the kind worn by ye olde townsfolk, doesn’t exactly conjure images of cool, stylish — or even comfortable dress — but Williams somehow made it work.
Her loose linen dresses with buttons down the back were drawn from designs she found in a book on medieval tailoring, and shirts and suits had a similar rough-hewn feel.
Williams jazzed them up with colorful prints, paper-doll cutout designs and graffiti scribbles, with some of the graphics done in collaboration with The Gate, a London arts and resource center for people with learning disabilities.
The dresses were lovely: A snappy black A-line dress had corset-style lacing at the seams, while others were printed with small bows, or covered in dark plaid or bright graffiti. Williams finished off a few of her dresses with statement sailor collars, which gave them a youthful spirit.
As always with Williams, there was a lot going on. There were nods to punk, grunge, and bondage gear in the form of a latex cape and skirt combo, and it could be confusing. But with more editing, and less of a complex, time-travel narrative, this collection could flourish on the shop floor, and not just among history buffs.