Matthew Williamson



In the mid-Nineties a tanned, good-looking youth from Central St Martins College of Art and Design started visiting the Vogue offices on Hanover Square during lunch time to sell the embroidered scarves that he'd had made in India. Just over a decade later that young man was partner in a fashion empire worth £52 million.

Matthew Williamson was born in Chorlton on October 23, 1971, and studied in Manchester before moving to London to enrol at St Martins.

Three years after his 1994 graduation he burst onto the style scene at London Fashion Week, with the impressive line-up of Kate Moss, Helena Christenson and Jade Jagger walking his brightly-coloured bias cut dresses and separates down the catwalk. No mean feat for a fledgling designer.

The girls had agreed to take part after falling in love with the beaded scarves and bags which were his very first creations.

His entourage has always been a key part of his popularity. Over the years he's formed close friendships with a wide circle of female celebs, who love his designs.

Among them are Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow Cat Deeley, Sienna Miller and more recently, X Factor judge Cheryl Cole.

He's also a favourite with Prince, who included a video of Matthew's runway presentation into the promo clip for one of his tracks in 2007, and performed at his tenth anniversary show, not for money, but basically because he wanted to.

Originally famous for his print skills, Matthew's collections are characterised by vibrant hues and often have an Indian influence. This is perhaps related to the time the designer spent working in India for clothing store Monsoon when he was just starting out in fashion.

As well as his own ranges, Matthew who has also branched out into fragrances - has lent his sartorial skills to lines for M&S and Debenhams. He spent three years as creative director of Pucci, and in 2009 he followed in the footsteps of his pal Kate Moss, producing a collection for H&M.

This venture included his first foray into menswear, which he described as: "British boy goes to Cuba."

Much of his success is down to Joseph, a former flight attendant and Matthew's one-time partner, now his best friend and the company's CEO. The pair started up the Matthew Williamson label together in 1996 and have made a profit every year of business.

Part of his appeal to the stars seems to be due to his witty and relatively down to earth nature. His mum Maureen even helped run the label until she moved back to Manchester in 2009 to be a full-time grandmother.

Near the start of his career he told journalists: "I'm not doing this to be a star. It is great fun, but I am in it for the long-term. You have to have your head screwed on otherwise you get screwed over."

Riding high into his second decade in the fashion world, it's clearly a motto he's stuck to.
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