Saturday, 15 January 2011

A year on with... Sarah Williams

As we excitedly edge closer to LCF's MA_11 festival, I'm still left wondering has it really been twelve months since I was first introduced to the talents of the 2010 crop. As you might recall, I was utterly blown away by the menswear design talent on show. From the nineteen students who were showcased in the 2010 show, it was the menswear that really shone through and I covered their collections in some detail in the subsequent months. This series of features began with Sarah Williams and her mind bending luxurious luggage.

Now, if I have found the last twelve months a little fast, Williams must have experienced something of a whirlwind of success. Since completing her MA in Fashion Artefact, Williams went on to set up her own label, Williams Handmade and has won two hugely prestigious awards at International Talent Support (ITS) for Accessory Collection of the Year and the Absolut Vodka award for accessories, and has taken part in LFW as part of Fashion East's menswear installations. In addition to developing her next collection which will be shown at ITS Ten, she is curently working with British leathergoods brand, Daines and Hathaway. By any standards this has been a hugely inspiring year for the next crop of MA graduates.

Williams has previously described that "Completing the MA Fashion Artefact course at LCF was one of the most challenging and rewarding that I have ever done. It provided me with a geat platform to launch my career from." Before we enthusiastically greet the crop of 2011, we just had to learn more about Williams' year and to secure her advice for future students,,,

SS: The last twelve months must have been something of a whirlwind as it is has seen you graduate, receive plaudits and awards around the globe, work with one of England's luxurious leather goods companies, presented at LFW and found the time to work on a new collection. Have I missed anything? Describe the last twelve months in your own words..
Sarah Williams: I think you managed to sum it all up there. It sounds a bit overwhelming when its all written down. It has been an extremely exciting and busy year. I have learnt so much from being thrust into the "real" world, after the bubble of university. I have also met a lot of really interesting and influential people and have been so humbled by everyone's comment and willingness to help me.

SS: Looking back over your year, ITS must be one of the real standout moments. In July you were invited to Trieste for the ninth year if ITS. Supported by Diesel, the design competition brings young fashion hopefuls together. Congratulations on picking up the Absolut award as well as the ITS Accessories collection of the year award. What can you tell us about the experience? What effect has the award had on Williams-Handmade?
Sarah Williams: ITS literall was one of the best weeks of my life. The whole experience from the moment we got off the plane, everyone from the organisers of ITS, the judges and all of the other finalists were so helpful, friendly and supportive. It was a great chance do some networking and meet many people which I would not have had chance to otherwise. Winning the award has a had a massive impact on Williams Handmade. Without the prize money it would have been very diffcult to be able to fund my new collection, so it has been really vital. I can not wait to go back to Trieste and present my new collection, although I am a bit nervous about how it will be received.

SS: You hoped to use craft to produce something which has never been seen before and to challenge the fashion industry's view on craftsmanship and how it can be used to produce something completely original. Have you been surprised by the reaction? How happy are you that you've accomplished these aims?
Sarah Williams: I was completely overwhelmed by the postive reaction that the collection received. I never expected to receive so much positive press. I am happy that most reports of the collection back up and suppport my views, whether I have actually made a change, I am not sure about that yet, I think there is still a lot to be done.

SS: Now, as part of your prize, you will be presenting your new collection at ITS Ten. At this early and secretive stage, what can you tell us about the collection?
Sarah Williams: The only think I can say is that my values have remained the same, but this time I have taken inspiration from an icon who shares these values. The rest is, I'm afraid is "top secret".

SS: Craftsmanship was the starting point to your concept and it is what the collection is based upon, but it developed to involve many other issues. In our previous interview, you mentioned the challenging the differences between the artisan and the artist, between design and fashion. Has your altered? Have you encountered any new challenges?
Sarah Williams: I suppose I have now seen both sides as I have produced bespoke artisan pieces for private orders and I have also worked as a designer at Daines and Hathaway. I hope with my new collection, that although I want to carry on with the bespoke more original items, to also produce some items which although made with a high level of craftsmanship are still affordable. As far as I can see the only problem (if it is one) with bespoke hand crafted items is that they inevitably become very expensive, and therefore elitist. I hope to overcome this with my new collection, whether I will achieve this I don't know yet.

SS: What would you like to achieve in 2011 and beyond?
Sarah Williams: Following launching my new collection at ITS, I would like to be able to show at LFW again and to get Williams Handmade products stocked in stores. As such I would like to go into some type of hand crafted production. I would also like to see a successful new collection for Daines and Hathaway where I am working.

SS:Finally, what advice would give the next crop of talented LCF MA graduates?
Sarah Williams: Enjoy the next year ahead of you.


James McF said...

These are truly unique pieces of design.

I hope that she achieves her aim of making her product more accessible. It will be interesting to see how the collection progresses throughout the years.

Anonymous said...

Stunning, stunning, stunning!!! Well done her, she looks a great talent.

Annie said...

These are such beautiful, original shapes. What a great find.

Brandon said...

I had the pleasure of seeing one of her pieces in the Burlington Arcade (The one right next to the Royal Acadamy?) and was just in awe at just how she did it. I haven't learned luggage making yet but what I do know is that it's pretty difficult to make conventionally shaped luggage let alone these masterpieces. I'd love to see a video of how she does it to be honest.


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