Ashley Williams would go to a wedding every weekend, if she could. "If you dress happy, you feel happy!" she says, when I ask if fashion needs an injection of fun. And it does. Amongst the squeaky vinyl and vixen red and black of fashion's rebel girl, Williams, Fashion East's newest recruit is a breath of fresh air. Picked up by Lulu Kennedy's pioneering programme Fashion East - alumni of which include Jonathan Saunders, Marios Schwab and Roksanda Ilincic - the Dubai born Westminster graduate has rapidly sped to success.
Ashley Williams is going places. She dispatched friends Pixie Geldof and Alice Dellal down her graduate catwalk, striding out in her Happy Ashley print, adapted from wrapping paper picked up in Dubai. Since, the crack emerging talent team at Lulu Kennedy's pionerring non-profit program Fashion East - an experience she describes as "perfect!" - selected Williams for representation. Showing on-schedule with Fashion East sophomore Clare Barrow and Ryan Lo at London Fashion Week this February to a fist punching, whooping and cheering crowd, Happy Ashley's precious autumn pieces featured King Elvis himself. A certain orange A-line coat topped with a neon green collar sold the show - models carried teddy bears to Elvis' respective soundtrack. DIY zines and scrapbooks, "made by myself and others", inspired this latest offering, her first with Fashion East. Punk glamour god, the late designer Stephen Sprouse is a major source of inspiration too, and she names Christopher Kane and Meadham Kirchhoff as her favourite current designers in London town. She says she'd most like to sit down for dinner with Elvis - "just because that would be so interesting", and Miley Cyrus, because "I bet she's funny!" A winning combination, for sure.
Ashley Williams graduate show / Ashley Williams at Fashion East AW13
Her rock'n'roll American aesthetic was proudly paraded on the London leg of Rihanna's '777' tour, the singer sporting a shirt and trousers ensemble. "The clothes look like they were made for her,'" says Williams of Rihanna, "I was shocked!" Rihanna is not her only fan. She names Vogue fashion editor Francesca Burns - and "funkyoffish ambassador" - as her style icon. Their relationship is mutual. "I am a massive fan of Ashley Williams" Burns says when I ask. "What is particularly brilliant about Ashley is that from the very start, she is thinking like a brand. It is extremely rare for a young designer to emerge with such confidence and clarity about what they want from their brand".
Now stocked at Machine A, Brewer Street's now-permanent emerging talent store, Williams is in good company next to Raf Simons, Louise Gray and Agi & Sam. "Ashley was high on the list of brands to stock when Machine-A was first opening" says Anna Trevelyan, fashion director of Machine A. "We are really happy to see her pieces as part of the identity of our store".
The Happy Ashley girl is 'every girl!' so it is thus decreed that this is a bandwagon we must hop onto.
Happy Ashley is stocked at Machine A, 13 Brewer Street, W1F and is available online at machine-a.com