Maddie Williams has just under two weeks to go until her first-ever show during London Fashion Week. She first showed at Graduate Fashion Week in June last year, attracting attention for her ambitious collection championing feminism and environmental sustainability; Maddie’s A/W 18 collection will be an extension of this one, featuring rubble sacks and other unorthodox materials.
The 22-year-old from Catford was interning with Vivienne Westwood and lecturing at Kingston School of Art when she found out she had been selected as one of Fashion Scout’s A/W 18 Ones to Watch. Maddie has had only a month to prepare. But the 5am-alarm-driven dedication has paid off and she has finally found time to breathe. So we took the chance to visit Maddie in her living room filled with sketches and shredded post bags.
Were you expecting to become one of Fashion Scout’s AW18 Ones to Watch?
No! I was really flattered and humbled and excited.
Environmental sustainability is a huge part of your work. Do you think fashion can change the world?
Art and design can be broadcast to all areas of society and be understood. You can write as many academic essays as you like but that’s not going to reach a wide audience. I think fashion is a good way to communicate a message that will be more broadly received.
Where do you find the inspiration for your collections?
Definitely museums. For my collection now, a heavy influence which informs the silhouettes was ancient fertility figurines like the Venus of Willendorf. I like to infuse symbolism in my work. The fang motif that I use is a stylised type of fang that sits over the vagina. There was an Ancient Greek play writer called Menander who said “To give a woman an education is to give a serpent fangs”, suggesting that a woman with an education is poisonous. So, I wanted to put a fang motif over female genitals to insert power.
Photography by Kt Allen
So, would you say your collection is power dressing?
Well, one of the messages I was trying to communicate is how in fashion now we unnaturally emphasise shoulders or something that makes you masculine. Like big shoulders in a jacket to make you feel powerful. So I wanted to do the opposite so exaggerate things that are overtly feminine, which is why I did the slanted shoulders. Everything is high neck, slanted down to give the effect of a narrow shoulder. It’s very stylized but I exaggerate the hips and the belly to emphasise fertility. I haven’t emphasised boobs but there’s no reason for that, I’m just a bum girl.
What’s next for you?
I’ll wait for the show to be over first... I like to go with the flow. But I’m thinking about renting my own studio. Maybe making some accessories or developing down some of the pieces to make them more wearable and see if there’s any interest in people buying.
Do you have any wise words that have helped you reach this point?
Just say yes.
Words by Sadie Bargeron