London Fashion Week A/W16 Day 5 - Ashley Williams and Xiao Li

Thursday, 25 February 2016

What an insane week - four out of five days at LFW, two working backstage, my first fashion party (and a few too many mini bottles of prosecco) our jewellery from Hirst Antiques being borrowed for the Joseph runway show, and then straight after my first University interview. I feel absolutely exhausted but in a good way - there's some comfort in feeling tired for a real reason, as you feel like you've earned a rest, instead of feeling lazy for having a bit longer in bed or taking it easy for a day or two.
On Tuesday it was the last day of LFW, with two shows at the BFC showspace that we were helping prepare for. Mona worked with us backstage and we ended up having several photos taken before our day started as we had accidentally matched in red and black outfits. My jumper is from Beyond Retro, necklace from Tatty Devine, socks from Monki, shoes from Underground and Mona's trousers are The Whitepepper.

 Our steaming was needed to help iron and prepare the Ashley Williams collection for the catwalk show - it was my first experience actually working hands-on with a designer's garments, and it was appropriately terrifying. A designer's whole career and work is in your hands; the fear of burning or damaging was huge but you just have to do it as quickly and perfectly as you can, being more careful than you have with anything previously in your life. It wasn't easy - some creases just did not want to come out, and I felt like I was probably more in the way than I was helping but it was really worthwhile being able to watch clothes we had worked on be presented to the world on the runway afterwards.

The collection was really great - my photos were on my phone again as we came straight from working, so I included some from as you need to see just how cool some of the pieces were. The concept was fantastic - I'm a sucker for a theme, and Ashley Williams' 'powergirl', a suited, business-woman boss with a hint of artful androgyny, a tazer in her pocket, and a sassy neon minidress completely swept me away. Trousers were pierced in a similar way to R. Shemiste's baseball caps, and crystal chokers and earrings added an element of sass to even the smartest of workwear. Williams described the collection as less "about gender fluidity, as [it is] about inner confidence," which to me accurately explained the way the clothes surpassed ideas of gender entirely, being more about individuals dressing with power and pride, irrelevent of their own gender or the socially defined gender of the garment worn. It was a highly modern and current theme and the clothes did not disappoint, with deconstructed suits, strong silhouettes and eye-catching prints making it one to remember. 

After a quick lunch it was back to work for the final show of the season: the much-anticipated Xiao Li, a show that for me, solidified Li's place as one of the finest designers of our current time. Instead of looking outward, Li chose this season to look back at her own work, and think about the way her designs have progressed whilst developing her place as an emerging talent. She asked herself, "where has the time gone?" and began to develop a collection based upon the idea of time, drawing inspiration from artists such as Salvador Dali, and considering concepts such as recycling wasted time. The theme remains wonderfully strong and consistent throughout the pieces; bags moulded into the shape of ticking clocks, time emblems and "no time" motifs decorate shoes and garments, pieces remaining deconstructed to suggest that there was not enough time to finish them. Stepped hems and flowing shapes imply a sense of movement, with the clothes appearing as if the wearer is running with the material flying out around and behind them. The true artistic concept to the work is so layered and contains so much depth; when paired with Li's incredible skill with tailoring and fabric construction, it creates an unrivalled combination that leaves you on the edge of your seat, excited to see what Xiao Li pulls out of the bag next time around. Improving from this collection seems almost impossible, but if anyone can do it, she can.

 The shapes were simply see them move was phenomenal, and I highly recommend you watch a video of the show as it really shows the pieces in the best light. This one by the British Fashion Council is HD and really captures the movement of the work.
 After the show we helped pack up a little before heading home for the last time this has been the best LFW for me so far and I'm excited to see what the next one brings. I went home and worked on a few last bits and bobs for my portfolio, as I had an interview the very next day for an art foundation course at University...coincidentally, the very uni that both Annaliese and Eddie (who I worked on the steam team with) attend!

I travelled to the interview with my HUGE portfolio by myself, which involved aching shoulders (I'm too short to hold it by the handle - it just drags on the floor!) a few wrong buses and panicked phone calls to my dad, but I made it in time (genuinely took me from 9.30am to 12.30 to get there...fingers crossed if I get in I get a little better at navigating hehe!). I fell very much in love with the uni..the interview wasn't too bad as my group was lovely (and everyone's work so fascinating!) and Annaliese very kindly met me for the BEST katsu curry lunch afterwards. It was a lovely end to a tiring week, and I am very much enjoying my recovery pyjama day today! I hope you all had a great week!


  1. Those are fantastic photos Ashley and Xiao Li, great read thank you.

  2. In love with your photos, and as always, I'm unbelievably jealous! I'd love to go to LFW someday!
    xx Alyssa

  3. Your Russian jumper is the most rad thing I've seen in awhile. :)

  4. your outfits are TOO amazing! I love the cut of your jeans Ellie


  5. totally get what you mean about feeling good tired (I unfortunately have just felt tired from sleeping in and being lazy)... fingers crossed for your uni interview though- that's so exciting!

    Also to work backstage on Ashley Williams, what a great opportunity Ellie. Loved all your outfits from LFW <3 <3

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  7. you look amazing omg!

  8. The first outfit you wore is just GOALS. And I read a bit about the Ashley Williams collection - it's flawless, I wish I could go and see it, must of been hella awesome. It looks like you had an incredibly rad time!!! xo

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