Not knowing London always makes getting to shows interesting as I tend to end up taking the scenic route. I get there in the end but it can take a while. So, when I manage to find the ICA for the Sadie Williams presentation, I'm more than a little distracted and out of breath. This daze is, however, blown right away the moment I step inside the building.
Descending from the bright, light-stoned buildings and blue skies of London outside into the black box that is the ICA show space, where the sound of howling wind surrounds and we find ourselves in the midst of an Alpine blizzard, is a shock to the system. And it captures our attention immediately. Unlike at other presentations, few are talking and all attention is firmly fixed at the centre of the room where Williams' girls stand to attention on a mountainous backdrop, positioned amongst ski run flags.
For AW16, Williams took an old photo of her parents on a ski holiday as her inspiration and positively sprinted away, Usain Bolt-style, with it. Chevrons, parka-like quilting, ropes and rock-climbing clips as hair accessories and bag handles - the theme snowballed down the mountain and was thoroughly incorporated throughout. Yet, it was so skillfully entwined with wearable silhouettes and pieces that costume - or actual ski-wear - was avoided. Instead, it produced a charming and playful collection that works "Off Piste", as its title suggested.
As much as Williams wraps her girls up in high-neck sweaters, tartan, thick socks, hiking boots, leather and quilting, she also imbues them with a bit of ski-bunny glamour reimagined. This is cool-girl glamour. There are sequins and glitter aplenty but these are off-set by silhouettes that skim rather than cling, mid-length hems and shiny silvers that lend a certain odd-ball charm. As my immediate notes from the presentation read, this girl is a bit of a "space cowgirl meets futuristic ski bunny".
And I like it.
The primary colours and use of metallics that somewhat reminds of imaginings of the future from the past is nostalgic and nods once more to that initial inspiration from Williams' parents. The use of Highland-inspired tartan alongside the Alpine-inspired prints, meanwhile, kept the collection varied but cohesive.
Another highlight of the presentation has to be the make-up, - part of the wave returning to more understated, bare looks - which saw the models wearing very little product at all bar very rosy cheeks, as if they had just stepped in out of the snow.
If there was an award for most singular and fully realised vision, Williams would definitely be on the shortlist.
But the real question is: how do I get invited on this ski trip?
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