Actually, it isn’t so much that the young, critically acclaimed designer is in a bad mood, but more that she’s in a different mood. SPACE designer Ashley Williams is known for her offbeat cartoony pop, but as she approached spring 2016 she realized she didn’t want to be permanently assigned to that particular brand of street-smart streetwear.
So, she sent out poster-sized invitations announcing a bad mood (you can see it in the full post) and at showtime, she sent out a crew of bad girls clad in red and black. Bad taste, good taste, bad behavior, good intentions, bad memories, good style: All of these things and more were woven into tee shirts and sweatshirts, studded with crystals, striped pink, and writ on slinky dresses and shapeless dresses, bathing suits, and baggy trousers in the form of anthropoids, abstract graphics and angsty statements.
We visited her at a pop-up immediately after the show and chatted it through, and not to worry: It’s a good bad mood. You’ll see.
“It was still the same girl, but she had a different outlook,” Williams told me in the showroom pop-up. “She’s just not the smiley-smiley person she was before.”
While I’m always wary of overly equating the author with the character, I couldn’t resist asking the designer if she thinks of herself as that girl—had her mood changed? Or did it change as she was building the collection?
“I did feel like I was in a slightly different place. Through life you go through different stages and challenges, and yeah, to some degree what I was going through reflected in what I was doing,” she told me. “But like with ‘Happy Ashley,’ everyone expected me to really be Happy Ashley and my boyfriend was like, ‘They so don’t understand.'”
She’s referring to a print that Alice Dellal wore on the runway and which sort of catapulted her into Next Big Thing status.
Williams doesn’t overuse emojis and she doesn’t strike you as, like, a former or current goth. Her girl is neither a Miss Mary Poppins nor Morticia Addams; it’s somewhere in between.
It’s somewhere in a plain hoodie sweatshirt that reads “Ashley Williams School of Ballet” in a purposefully nondescript script.
“That’s like, where my worst memories come from,” she says, super deadpan—just like the sweatshirt. And really, you can’t picture the petite, somewhat serious Middle East-born Brit in a pink tutu.
Williams says she does wear her collection, and she does carry the bags (that’s her current-season tote on the floor below)—but only when and if she can get them back from the press office after they’ve passed them out for shoots and It girl loans.
If the moody Victorians had Cartoon Network, Williams’s spring accessories could be their official merchandise. Creepily cuddly: 100%. The designer found a traditional bear maker south of London and had her alter her process just a little for the pink and red charms, and the coolest zipper clutch feels like it was made for Georgia O’Keeffe’s brooding teenage daughter.
We’re thinking Williams would be wise to keep a few herself next time she makes a delivery to the PR team. And we can save a few for you, too—whether you’re a bad girl, good girl or entirely in-between.
Shop: current season Ashley Williams at SPACE