Ashley Williams Spring READY-TO-WEAR Collection 2021

View Gallery 18 Photos

“In 2020 the world changed. In a subconscious reaction, designer Ashley Williams changed too; she stopped worrying about criticism.” Well, that’s damn lucky for her—the next couple of hundred words won’t sting at all! In truth, however, her press release’s inviting intro aside, there wasn’t too much to kvetch about in this typically twisted and sometimes entertaining collection from Williams.

As she explained, her creative position was because of You Know What: “I couldn’t do any formal research for this collection; my formal research would be like picking up bits and bobs as I go and collecting things. So I kind of did a bit of internet research, but it was just like an accumulation of small ideas that all came together.”

This digital bricolage approach was supplemented by the snaffling of stuff from things she’d already stashed, such as the vintage 1980s troves of tattoo convention magazines whose inked models were reprinted on pieces, or pictures of her dogs given fresh walkies on sportswear. There was a fluffy little kitten on the groin of a miniskirt—ha!—and crystal cobweb or paw-print boob dress and pentagram bra-tops in mohair.

There was a nicely faux cutesy ironic bow story running throughout—so there was a kind of narrative, after all—whether as hairpieces or integrated over some excellently silhouetted punk-meets-prom dresses. A minidress featured Jesus mid-crucifixion: “Just something I found on the internet.”

Added Williams: “Sometimes when I have been making things in the past there has been that thought process of: ‘Ahh, I can’t do that because, you know, it’s not gonna sell. No one’s gonna want that’. And I just kind of have to rein myself in a little bit. But I felt like this time, I was like: ‘Ohh, if I want to do a drawing of like, a man puking my name and a dog, like, pooing it out—then I’ll just do it.’ ”

Because if not now, when, right? Not all of Williams’s I-Really-Don’t-Care-Do-U-ness struck entirely true, but whatever: Her flotsam-and-jetsam approach can sometimes yield treasure, and if you’re not interested in picking it up, then just keep walking.