VB takes me back to 1997

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When Victoria Beckham was pictured leaving a hotel in NYC a few months back* in bold summer brights, two words immediately sprung to mind.

(*Apologies, being a Mum-that-blogs means I operate on a time delay. I’m either way ahead of the game after a night-feed Twitter sesh or miles behind).

Those two words were Electric Angels.

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Electric Angels was the acclaimed debut collection by designer Matthew Williamson who had graduated from London’s Central Saint Martins college in 1994 after studying a BA in Fashion Design and Printed Textiles. Williamson had launched his own fashion label, Matthew Williamson Ltd, with his business partner Joseph Velosa.

In 1997 a cold call was made to Plum Sykes, who at the time was the Fashion Assistant at British Vogue. This led to a meeting with Sykes where she placed an order with Williamson for some of his self-designed silk scarves. Encouraged by this reaction, Williamson focused on creating his first ever womenswear collection for SS98, which was to be shown at London Fashion Week. The rest, as they say, is history.

Picture the scene. It’s September 1997, LFW is in full flow and Electric Angels is illuminating the catwalk. The show featured only fourteen looks, but they were hugely impactful pieces, including bias cut dresses in a zingy palette of colours such as tangerine, fuchsia, magenta and aqua. The collection was an ode to the dragonfly, with hand-embroidered organza dragonfly wings swooping across shift dresses and sitting on the shoulder of cardigans.

Perhaps most memorably, the models included Kate Moss, Helena Christensen and Jade Jagger. Williamson’s catwalk debut received widespread acclaim and deservedly made him a luminary of the British fashion scene. The early ’90s had seen the introduction of grunge and minimalism thanks to Marc Jacobs’ historic and very cool (but at the time criticised) grunge collection show for Perry Ellis in 1992. In stark contrast, Williamson’s show was an outburst of spirited brights, sensual exoticism and intricate details which caught everyone’s attention and would define his signature style.

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So, back to Victoria Beckham and the reason I’m writing this. It was VB’s bright aqua trousers and fitted red sweater that reminded me of the bias cut dress that Kate Moss wore. Trust VB to reference one of the most important moments in fashion history, a show that made a huge impact on the style world and paved the way for an illustrious career that continues to stand the test of time. Williamson’s signature aesthetic remains vibrant with patterns, textures and kaleidoscopic colour.

MATTHEW WILLIAMSON SS98 PHOTO CHRIS MOORE ONE TIME PUBLICATION ONLY BAPLA AND NUJ TERMS APPLY

MATTHEW WILLIAMSON SS98 PHOTO CREDIT: CHRIS MOORE

Electric Angels lasted just seven minutes but was the starting point for the label, which under Williamson and his business partner Velosa, has continued to grow.

The show without question remains one of my all-time favourite fashion moments so far and the beautiful models and exotic pieces had an enormous impact on me. It was magnetic.

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2 Comments

  1. Terry Engel 21st September 2016 / 3:13 pm

    I don’t know much about fashion, but I enjoy reading your posts and knowing that there is more to life than the many varieties of camouflage we see in Arkansas in the U.S.

    • Material Whirl 4th November 2016 / 2:49 pm

      Thank you Terry, that is so kind of you to say! And likewise, reading your posts provides a sense of escapism and catapults me to the US (where I always want to be!). Thank you so much. All the best, Nicola.

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