Bethany Williams has stepped under the spotlight with an exhibition of her past work — and process — going on display at London’s Design Museum this week, and a thought-provoking, arty collection for fall.
Williams has built a fashion label on environmental and social values, working exclusively with upcycled and recycled materials or deadstock, and with craftspeople, marginalized communities and charities.
She’s done collaborations with San Patrignano, the drug and alcohol dependence rehab center in Italy; the Magpie Project for mothers and children living in insecure housing in East London; and Adelaide House, a women’s shelter based in Liverpool.
Each season, Williams works with a different charity and donates a percentage of profits to its cause. Her label is small and independent, and Williams remains committed to her vision of fashion as a force for change.
Her fall 2022 collection debuted at The Design Museum, one floor above where her “Alternative Systems” exhibition is taking place. It was filled with all sorts of interesting materials, including wooden buttons sourced from a tree surgeon in London; a cactus leather jacket, and clothing made from bamboo silk, or bottle caps.
Calling the collection “The Hands That Heal Us,” the designer said this latest outing was inspired by the ever-growing “community of makers, creatives, local and social manufacturers, all of whom play an integral part” in the brand and supply chain.”
Williams does not compromise on design: These were clothes that looked and felt great, from the denim and hemp worker jackets with removable rivet buttons, to a coat fashioned from a patchwork of blankets, to the bamboo silk pajamas covered in swirly abstract patterns.
The designer also has a great sense of humor: The patches on the front of one jacket were made from curtain upholstery, recalling the floral outfits that Julie Andrews whipped up for the von Trapp kids in “The Sound of Music.”
Detachable coat collars, hats and bags were all made from a collage of fuzzy wool bits, fringes, trim and braiding that looked as if they were swiped from an interiors shop, or some aristocratic home.