Matthew Williamson is not afraid to experiment with his very specific design aesthetic at different price points. Witness his new collection, MW by Matthew Williamson, which just bowed last week.
MW by Matthew Williamson, the designer’s latest lower-priced collection, follows closely on the heels of his recent one-off Macy’s capsule. This line, however, is truly a diffusion line--just don’t call it cheap. While the prices are more accessible than the main line, a cute metallic thread cheetah print coat dress will set you back more than $500.
I caught up with the designer at his colorful Meatpacking District store, where he was celebrating the launch with some fabulous friends (like Dree Hemingway.) Of course I wanted to get the scoop on the collection, but I also wanted to drill him about Cat Deeley. (Ed. note: Leah and I both have girl crushes on the now Emmy-nominated host of So You Think You Can Dance. She’s so pretty. And so nice. And so normal. So when I found out they were friends, I couldn’t resist. Anyway. You've been warned.)
Fashionista: Tell me about this collection and what’s different from your main line. Matthew Williamson: I hate the word “diffusion,” but it is a diffusion line in the sense that it’s a secondary level to the main line. It’s less red carpet, less glamorous, less jet set, all those DNA qualities of the main line. They’re there, but they’re in much more subtle form, and it’s more about a day wardrobe for a more urban, contemporary, younger customer. (At this point Dree, who sat in on the interview to support Matthew, piped in: “It’s for having fun in!”)
You have some specific design elements you’re well known for. What did you keep and what did you pitch for this line? I kept the love of pattern, color, print, texture, effortless glamour.
You have experience doing lower priced lines, like the one you did with Macy’s. What is challenging about a lower priced line? What do you have to give up? With this line, weirdly, not very much. Because it’s owned by an Italian company, everything is manufactured in Italy, so the quality is certainly not sacrificed. It probably would be with a high street collaboration, but in this instance it’s not. It’s mid-priced. It’s not a cheap, low-end line. The quality is absoblutely there. It’s amazing what you can do. Of course there are limitations--like when you buy fabric it needs to be cheaper--but it’s less restrictive than you might think.
I understand the first collection is just in this store for now. Where do you hope to be after that? I’d like to be in boutiques across America and specialty stores. And department stores. It needs to be a department store that gets what the line is. I see it [near] Twenty8Twelve, Sass and Bide, and See by Chloe. A store that kind of embodies that ethos.
Can you see yourself doing a line with a high street store in the future? I don’t intend to do another one. Macy’s was a one season deal, sort of an in and out opportunity.
Dree: That was for people who couldn’t afford to buy his main line, and want to have a sense of the print and color. It was amazing. I still have the dresses and I wear them all the time!
(To Dree): Have you been involved in the line? Muse? I’m just being supportive and I love Matthew to death. He really has an amazing eye for putting togehter fun patterns and prints that you just want to throw on. Everyone just wants to wear black and be minimal. He has a way of doing minimal but with a lot of color.
(Back to Matthew) Here’s an unrelated question. We have a big crush on Cat Deeley. When are you going to collaborate on something with her here in the States? Cat’s a really old friend of mine; I knew her a million years ago. She’s a really down-to-earth, fun girl. She’s really smart. I’m just really proud of her.
Has she worn your clothes on the show? Yes, she wears a lot of my clothes.
Will you make her Emmy dress? Are you serious? I didn’t know [about] that! Well, she needs to call me! Maybe I should call her. (Muses.)
Do you dance? I do dance, yes.
Cat’s always saying on the show that she can’t dance. She can bust a few moves, she really can. I like salsa and latin. I have had a few lessons. It’s like my dirty secret.
Will it ever influence you, those crazy latin dance cosutmes? You never know, maybe one day.
I read recently that you said you were “feeling Japanese.” There’s a very subtle Japanese influence in the spring show we’re about to do. It’s very subtle but there’s an element of it.
Dree and Matthew then got whisked away before I could embarrass myself further and start asking Dree questions about her shoot with the Biebs for his perfume.
Click through to see some selected images from the MW by Matthew Williamson look book.