Matthew Williamson: from vogue star to interiors tsar | Life and elegance


Three years in the past the style designer Matthew Williamson quietly moved to Mallorca, closed his outlets and commenced to wind down the style arm of his model. There was no grand finale catwalk present or overblown press launch, merely an absence from the 2016 London Fashion Week programme and an announcement that he was transferring to on-line gross sales solely.

Such a restructuring wasn’t that uncommon on the time: catwalk exhibits had been extensively agreed to be dropping their attract, and gross sales in bricks and mortar outlets had been dipping. And but, such was the absence of accompanying fanfare, nobody in vogue thought for a minute this may imply no extra attire from a luminary famend for what US Vogue excessive priestess Anna Wintour as soon as described as “bright bubbly prints and unabashedly pretty clothes”. After all, Williamson was on the prime of his sport; his assertion robes frequently made the purple carpet because of long-standing A-list followers resembling Sienna Miller and Thandie Newton. But, dial all of it down he did, for his creativity had discovered a brand new type of expression – inside design.

And so it’s that we’re sitting within the balmy Balearic sunshine in Deià, a picturesque village on the western flank of Mallorca, which Williamson now calls residence. It’s additionally the situation of the unique and really cool Belmond La Residencia resort – previously owned by Richard Branson and now a favoured hang-out of Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Moss – the place he has simply completed a bespoke suite of rooms.

Williamson’s typically bright colours and vibrant fabrics at Belmond La Residencia hotel, Deià, Mallorca.

Floral tribute: Williamson’s sometimes brilliant colors and vibrant materials at Belmond La Residencia resort, Deià, Mallorca. Photograph: Tom Mannion/Belmond

And who might blame him? “The fashion circus is relentless,” Williamson explains of his geographical transfer. “Four shows a year, with the endless pressure to do more and fight harder for less and less prime retail space.” In brief, he felt “increasingly squashed between the might and money of the Chanels of this world, and the intrigue factor of the newbies. It was really scary to get off that wheel,” he admits. “But I was tired of the merry-go-round. I don’t know if I’ve jumped off a cliff, but the live/work aspect of running a business for 22 years? There’s only so much oil in my tank.”

Besides, on a regular basis the frocks had been grabbing the headlines, Williamson had been stealthily amassing a formidable way of life portfolio. As far again as 2003 he collaborated with the Rug Company on a collection of carpets utilizing prints from his ready-to-wear vary. Then got here stationery for luxurious leather-based retailers Smythson and, in 2008, wallpaper for Habitat. Since 2012, following the success of his diffusion vogue label for Debenhams, he has created a biannual homewares assortment for the model, starting from vibrant bedlinen to embroidered cushions.

However, the collaboration which actually distinguished him was his first assortment in 2013 with Osborne & Little, purveyors of high quality materials and wallpaper. With this, the hand-painted peacocks and buzzing birds which turned synonymous together with his clothes had been now accessible to upholster our sofas and paper our partitions. This debut was swiftly adopted by commissions to brighten the bridal suite at Aynhoe Park, a 17th-century stately residence in Oxfordshire; the courtyard backyard on the Kensington boutique resort Blakes and, in 2016, a whole vary of furnishings and lighting for the British producer Duresta. A 5th assortment for Osborne & Little will launch in September.

A bedroom with blue patterned bedding on a four-poster and green wallpaper at Suite 67 at Belmond La Residencia

Hallmark designs: with Suite 67 at Belmond La Residencia, Williamson used his signature type to nice impact. Photograph: Tom Mannion/Belmond

“Stopping fashion and moving into interiors felt like a genuine progression,” he says. “I’m simply continuing what I’ve established as a fashion designer and expressing it in a new form. It’s a very exciting time.”

Williamson’s constantly wealthy aesthetic was set proper at the start of his profession as a response to the perceived greyness of his native Manchester. “Every collection I’ve ever done has been inspired by nature in one form or another, the more exotic the better. Exotic countries and sun-drenched landscapes are what really capture my imagination.”

The transfer to Deià, tucked into the foothills of Mallorca’s Tramuntana mountains, chimed with this want. The village additionally has a long-established creative heritage because of inventive locals new and previous, from the creator and poet Robert Graves to the Polish mannequin Anja Rubik. “I fell in love with Deià the moment I arrived,” says Williamson. “A year later, I bought a small house and have loved every minute of renovating it. Next I want to create a painting studio/office space so I can work from home.”

The pool at Suite 67 at Belmond La Residencia.

Splashing out: Suite 67 at Belmond La Residencia. Photograph: Tom Mannion/Belmond

The ardour for interiors was at all times there, beginning with Williamson’s childhood bed room. Before he left residence, his closing look was “a ghastly lavender shade from Homebase for the walls, with silver paint for the woodwork”. Photographs of an early bedsit in Gray’s Inn Road reveal a tiny kitchen with vivid pink cabinets lined with photographs of tea cups snipped from a roll of wrapping paper. His subsequent studios, outlets and houses have frequently been featured in shiny magazines, typically making the quilt as a result of they had been seductive in a means that made you severely contemplate the chances of a turquoise toilet.

And now this newest venture at “La Res”, because the famed Mallorcan resort is popularly identified, appears set to assuage any doubts about his transition to interiors. The deluxe Suite 67, one of many largest within the resort with its wraparound terraces, out of doors cosy and personal pool, is an achieved assemblage of items and papers from his numerous collections. It is peppered with quirky touches which can little doubt change into his inside hallmarks: a even handed use of pale pink and aquamarine, marabou feather-trimmed lamps, hand-painted classic furnishings and gloriously detailed wallpaper used unexpectedly on ceilings and inside cabinets. As he places it: “I’m fascinated with creating spaces which evoke a sense of joy, optimism and personality; spaces which marry a sort of rustic earthiness with touches of grandeur and decadence. Much like my clothes, I guess.”

Michelle Ogundehin from

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