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Matthew Williamson launched his new contemporary diffusion line, MW by Matthew Williamson last night at his flagship store on 14th Street at a party co-hosted by Dree Hemingway and in conjunction with Refinery 29. The new line is intended to be a wider and more accessible range, at a lower price point than his main line.
"The aim was really to offer a broader collection, with more units than we have in the line—I think it spans about 250 pieces in the diffusion line," Williamson told us. "The idea is to have it at a lower price point, more accessible, and offer a slightly different slant on the main line. The main line is known more for print and color and that sort of red-carpet aesthetic, glamour and jet-set and all those kind of ideas. So whilst those ideas have some synthesis within the diffusion line, I wanted to make it more about an urban wardrobe and less about specialty pieces."
Racked: Did you feel more freedom to do these things with the diffusion line?
Matthew: It's less easy to do this sort of thing within my main line because there's a really clear DNA there. Although of course we do the plain shirts and so on, the mainstay is usually special occasion pieces. So yes, this is absolutely an opportunity to broaden the design spectrum and tap into the girl who wants to mix things up and wear things that are more day-to-evening than things that are purely occasion wear.
Racked: Do you ever feel hindered by that DNA that you've become so associated with?
Matthew: I probably would've felt more hindered by it a couple of years ago but now that I'm a little older and a little wiser I've become comfortable in my own skin and my own aesthetic. It's one I feel at ease with and I don't think you can be everything to everyone as a designer. The most successful brands are those that develop a strong DNA and turn the dial and that's what we try to do.
Racked: What was your inspiration behind this line other than that urban girl sensibility?
Matthew: Looking at classic pieces with this rock and roll sensibility, the look of Anita Pallenberg and Marianne Faithfull, those kind of rock and roll chicks, that was the sort of broad base.
Racked: You've been so inspired by travel in the past—was that a factor in this collection too?
Matthew: Less so in this Fall collection but I've just finished Spring/Summer and that's definitely got a sort of South American-travel sensibility to it. I'd like to think that my references are less specific than they were in the beginning — you know, it's not like we go 'India! Let's make a collection about India!' now. But there's always an ethnic, global sensibility there, if nowhere else then in the texture and the beading.
Racked: Do you feel that people still do associate you so much with that whole Ibiza-girl boho vibe that you were so known for?
Matthew: You know, I've been to Ibiza like, three times. I don't really like it there particularly, much to everybody's shock and horror. Ibiza's kind of a word that's just bandied about because it's a way for a journalist to encapsulate what I do. But I think that if you come and see the collection and look at the collection, more often than not you discover that while it's an easy, cliched word to use, it's not necessarily particularly relevant.
Racked: Do you miss showing in New York now that you've moved back to London?
Matthew: I don't really miss it necessarily. I think that having shown in London, New York, Milan when I was with Pucci, I think each city has its pros and cons. It's quite nice to show in your hometown though. I do miss it as a city though, I'm here for two days and it's a stupid amount of time to be here. I miss the energy here, but the grass is always greener, I always think when I'm in New York that everyone looks so much cooler than London, but I guess New York would think the opposite, that London looks much cooler.
Racked: Where do you see your brand going now, after the launch of MW?
Matthew: I don't have any huge plans for the near future in terms of other lines, we've got four collections a year with the main line, two collection with the diffusion, a bridal collection, a show to do in September. I think that'll do me for now at least.
Reporting and interview by Ana Kinsella
— Matthew Williamson [Offical Site]