After graduating just two years ago from Raffles College, Leah Williams has already built a strong presence with her eponymous label. Playful, engaging, and technically daring, Leah’s creations are truly one-off – more art than clothing, and yet eminently wearable.
This May, alongside curating a collection for the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week runway, Leah will be collaborating with 107 Objects to produce a small run of unique t-shirts, available only through our online store. Follow @_107objects on Instagram, and you’ll be taken along on the process, learning what goes into the clothes we wear, and what it takes to make it as an independent designer in Sydney.
First, though, we wanted to introduce you to the mind behind it all: Leah Williams.
Hey Leah! What gets your creative juices flowing?
Bold colours and anything you can run your fingers through! I love fabrics that excite all your senses. Once I see a fabric that excites me, I immediately have a rush of ideas. That’s when I know I am on to something good!
What’s something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
I love going to bush doofs and music concerts! It’s a great way to be inspired by so many different colourful personalities, fashion and cultures. It is also a great way to get away from the city and be in nature, helps refresh my creative cycle and just a good excuse to have a dance!
When did you first decide you wanted to be a fashion designer and why?
I think I always knew subconsciously that this is what I wanted to do! I always loved to dress up as a child and wouldn’t miss the opportunity to wear something bright, glittery or patterned.
We hear that your nan taught you how to sew. Where did she learn and what did sewing mean to her?
She learnt from her mother, who would make her clothes as a child. She grew up surrounded by hand-made dresses and a house filled with hand crafted lace and doilies. It meant a sense of independence and allowed her to personalise her home and create a sense of individuality. Nothing can beat something that is hand made, where you can see the blue print and mark of the creator. It creates a sense of uniqueness and a human quality, which is something I feel that we miss today, with such highly technological and mechanical lifestyles.
You recently launched your label, Leah Williams. What has starting a business taught you?
I would definitely have to say it has shown me how to stand up for myself, creatively and also emotionally. It has taught me to ask for what I want and also how important it is to stand by your vision, values, and goals. That’s what makes me the happiest.
Can you describe the process behind developing a new collection?
Each collection is conceptually driven and deep in meaning. Inspiration is more triggered by an experience or interaction, whether it’s an art exhibition or seeing live music.
The collection that will be presented at MBFWA 2018/19 is driven by the aesthetic of Hans Arp, who created organic abstraction. He was a pioneer of the DADA art movement with a hint of surrealism. I was lucky enough to view his work at the MoMA in New York late last year.
His artwork will be an inspiration for colour, print and textile manipulation. Different textured fabrics will be used to create appliqué, paying homage to Arp’s signature conceptual shapes and collage aesthetic.
A lot of your pieces are quite unisex, and could easily be worn by anybody – is this something that’s important to you?
Yes, I would love for my garments to be approachable so that anyone can use them to create their own silhouette. My aim is to create garments that have infinite styling possibilities. I feel that my designs are very playful and sculptural, so that they can be manipulated or layered to create different shapes to suit any body type.
What does your own fashion say about you?
Playful in concept yet rigorously executed, which I think is quite fitting with my latest collection.
What’s your proudest achievement so far?
I would have to say the end of last year when I was able to attend Shanghai Fashion Week in October, and Mercedes Benz China in November! I presented my “Aurora Collection” to the Chinese Market, where it was picked up by a distributor in Hong Kong.
Where are you headed next?
Next on my calendar is Mercedes Benz Fashion Week on Wednesday May 16, where I have been preparing my new collection to be showcased on the runway. From there I’ll be working on a small capsule that will go into production and ready to sell in September and continue to create new designs along the way! //
See more of Leah’s work at leah-williams.com or on Instagram @leahwilliamsofficial. Follow @_107objects to keep up to date with collab news and learn more about the behind-the-scenes of producing and designing your own collection.
Visit objects.107.org.au to see more from our favourite independent and emerging artists!