B E T H A N Y  

W I L L I A M S

S P R I N G / S U M M E R

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London Collection.
23 September. 2020
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BEST EDITORIAL 

OF PAP MAGAZINE

IN AUGUST

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BEST EDITORIAL 

OF PAP MAGAZINE

IN AUGUST

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BEST EDITORIAL 

OF PAP MAGAZINE

IN AUGUST

ALL OUR CHILDREN

By Eno Mfon

They say it takes a village to raise a child,

But did they tell you that they’ll turn a child away,

Based on their parents postcode,

Or the place their grandfather called home,

A past they did not choose, used to determine their present.

Excuses have met these children at the door,

Before they could even say a word,

They have just learnt how to say mama,

So how can they possibly ask for help,

They’ve watched their mama’s try before,

Seen them cry behind closed doors,

Because behind every closed door is the belief that,

“These are not our children”

That, our rooms are reserved for babies born in our borough,

With our blood,

From the womb of a woman who looks just like us.

They say it takes a village to raise a child,

But do they know that that child could one day raise their

village,

Change their entire city,

Rearrange the landscape so that we see this world differently,

With skyscrapers made out of hopes and dreams,

Becoming concrete, becoming reality,

Our future lives in their imagination,

They carry it along the pavement of their minds, Until their hands are strong enough to build it,  

Until their mouths are filled with words of their own,

Until their feet are able to find a way home,

Until their shoulders can carry any responsibility,

They are first ours,

They say it takes a village to raise a child,

And I say, we are that village,

And they are all our children.

Bethany Williams SS21

London-based designer Bethany Williams presents her SS21 collection celebrating the ethos of the Magpie Project, an organisation she has been volunteering for and collaborating with since 2019.

Newham-based Magpie Project works with children and mothers who are homeless or at risk of homelessness – 80% of whom have no recourse to public funds (NRPF). These children, like some 100,000 in the UK, live in destitution because their parents immigration status denies them the safety net of our welfare system. In 2017, the Project’s founder Jane Williams first became aware of the plight of these children in her community. She sought help from the local authority. She was told by councillors, service providers and commissioners that they had no duty to look after these vulnerable children because they were not in the right catchment area, they were not entitled to help, they were “not our children.” Jane couldn’t let this stand. She set up the Magpie Project to insist that – no matter what – every child has the right to support: they are all our children.

Bethany’s latest collection – aptly titled All Our Children – not only finds its inspiration in the stories and lives of the people she met and worked with there, but also the importance of family spirit in a child’s life. Through the process of designing the collection, Bethany included the families that are part of the Project via drawing workshops and playtime, and then teamed up with illustrator and artist Melissa Kitty Jarram on transforming children’s drawings into prints and patterns that became part of the final textiles. “This is a true co-production with the Magpie community and it’s really validating for these women who have previously been disbelieved and unheard, marginalised and ignored to be valued and listened to at the highest level,” explains Jane. As always, 20% of the proceeds from the collection will go back to the Magpie Project.

Part of this outing is also a partnership with the Somerset House – Bethany and Melissa designed a flag that will be erected on top of the House in honour of All Our Children. In addition to the words, the vibrant design of a mother and child on the canvas references the Asafo flags of the Fante people in Ghana that traditionally symbolise warrior-like strength which is in this case assigned to the mothers of Magpie.

Through her continuous work with environmental health in mind, Bethany once again worked with deadstock, organic and recycled materials as well as with manufacturing units as part of social initiatives San Patrignano and Making for Change. Several pieces are patchworked out of deadstock jersey and nylon garments provided by Adidas Originals. For the first time, the collection includes tailoring which adds a new layer to the growing reach of Bethany’s garments. She also worked with Welsh designer Rosie Evans on two different corset designs for which Rosie created boning out of fruit packaging waste. While she started and continues to be labeled as mainly a menswear label, Bethany Williams aspires to reach as many people as possible. With garments fit on both male and female bodies, the goal is to give more people access to wearing them, herself included.

Following last season’s research at the V&A Museum of Childhood, SS21 marks the debut of Bethany Williams kidswear. Three looks made as miniature replicas of the adult ones encompass the narrative of the brand’s world being all-inclusive. At the beginning of the design process, the designer reached out to her community in order to accumulate both visual and verbal personal stories dating back to their early years. These tales became the inspirations for the silhouettes, with some of them being interpreted by Mellissa into illustrations that appear hand-printed on the pieces. Building on the idea of familial unity, Bethany has worked with ISKO VITALTM+ on creating matching adult and children’s protective face covers in organic materials printed with the collection’s graphics.

As part of her most focused vision yet, Bethany presents another newness. Bags, developed with Tottenham-based specialist Stevan Saville, are woven in San Patrignano out of book waste provided by Hachette Children’s and come in two different styles. The first, a hybrid of a reading wallet and a book with a customisable metal name plaque, comes in three sizes correlated to different publishing formats: mini dictionary, novel and encyclopedia. The second style is an updated take on a childhood lunch box – a one- of-a-kind vintage piece wrapped in the colourful woven fabric. Both styles come with detachable crossbody belts and are 100% vegan products.

Instead of a catwalk show, Bethany worked on the visuals with her friend and photographer Ruth Ossai. Shot in accordance with the Covid-19 government guidelines in front of Magpie’s Newham offices, the lookbook photographs and film capture five families wearing the garments. The video is soundtracked with a poem specially written for this occasion by playwright and writer Eno Mfon. Powerful, moving and encouraging all of us to own up to our collective responsibility for the next generation, her words verbalise the mission of the collection and Bethany’s work at-large. “They say it takes a village to raise a child, And I say, we are that village and they are all our children.”

themagpieproject.org

This collection is dedicated to the loving memory of Lisa Hoang and Elie Che.

CREDITS

Creative Direction – Bethany Williams
Director, Photographer & Filmmaker – Ruth Ossai
Photography assistants: Luke Ossai, Ryan Connolly
Film and Editing - Lorraine Khamali
Poet – Eno Mfon
Stylist – Tallulah Harlech
Illustrator– Melissa Kitty Jarram
Casting – Chloe Rosolek
Music Direction – Benji B
MUA – Rebecca Davenport
Knitwear – Alice Morell Evans
Footwear – Adidas and Helen Kirkum
Corsets - Rosie Evans
Bags – Stevan Saville
Text – Dino Bonačić
Communication – The Lobby London
Production – Faye Scott-Maberley
Models - Stephanie, Khalani, King, Mariam, Mohammed, Mesk, Melaz, Kemi, Leo, William, AJ, Akuac Team – Natalie Hodgson, Catriona Macleod, Megan St Clair

Supported by the Adonyeva Foundation

Special Thanks – The Magpie Project, Somerset House Trust, The British Fashion Council, Caroline Rush, Wool and the Gang, ISKO VITALTM+, Orto Print Studio, Molly Evans, Joseph Henry, Eric Williams, Karen Kewley, Natalie Hodgson, Catriona Macleod, Megan St Clair.

WWW.BETHANY-WILLIAMS.COM
@BETHANY_WILLIAMS_LONDON

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