After a night out, in the early hours of the morning, are you in paradise or gripped by paranoia? That was the question at the centre of Ashley Williams' AW17 collection, set against another captivating backdrop, designed by Tony Hornecker. For SS17 we were welcomed into Ashley’s teen dream bedroom but for AW17, the new show space at 180 The Strand was transformed with foliage and plastic garden chairs seating canoodling couples, transporting us to the garden outside the coolest house party, for which we’d all like an invite.
“Go unto the garden, go under the ivy, under the leaves, away from the party,” was the Kate Bush quote opening the show notes. And the collection certainly offered a variety of outfits for every kind of partygoer making a stealthy exit at 5am. For the melancholic wallflower there was a full tracksuit, aptly emblazoned with the word ‘MISERY’, while for the social butterflies and show-stoppers there was slick streetwear heavily inspired by the Paninaro – an '80s youth scene that took its name from a group of youngsters who would meet at the Panino café in Milan, sporting vibrant puffer jackets and shearling coats. There were also more feminine flourishes via floral print dresses and puff-sleeve blouses, and touches of Americana came in the form of Clueless-esque yellow plaid, Stetson hats, classic denim, cow-print crops and cowgirl fringing. Chunky knits and bomber jackets returned as staple pieces of Ashley Williams’ signature aesthetic.
And it wouldn’t be an Ashley Williams show without catchy slogans printed throughout the collection, which was styled by i-D fashion editor, Julia Sarr-Jamois. There were dresses with the message ‘Save The Planet’ stamped across the front and Swarovski-studded hair slides and earrings reading ‘Paranoia’. Ashley’s fierce female army, cast by Danielle Emerson, was made up of the characteristic diverse crew of tough girls who embody the dynamism and individualism pumping through not only Williams' designs but London itself. Though the message might have been slightly bleak, as ever, it was articulated in a playful, tongue-in-cheek way, capturing Williams' irreverent approach to fashion, which keeps the coolest kids (like Pixie Geldof and Alice Dellal, who sat front row) queuing for her collections each season.