Menswear Friday – Rion Willard

Menswear Friday – Rion Willard

An interview between Thinking Hand Studio founder Rion Willard and fashionista Kate Davies of Fabrickated. Originally feature here

I have neglected Menswear for a while. I do appreciate my male readers and I want to try to write more about mens’ fashion, style and clothing. Because I don’t sew menswear muc I depend on men being happy to talk to me about their clothes.

I was at a “Property Professionals Breakfast” the other day (99% male, I am afraid), and one man stood out  – Rion Willard. I was intrigued by his colourful outfit and I asked him to talk to me about his clothes, his attitude to colour and where he buys his clothes. He is a youthful, slim architect,  who has a dramatic wardrobe personality. But maybe more traditional looking men could take a bit of inspiration from this lovely man.


Rion, in my Notting Hill Housing office


What was your family’s attitude to clothes, when you were growing up?

I grew up as a mixed race kid in the heart of Croydon. My father is English and mother’s of Indian origin. She was a model in her youth and was also brought up in a strict Hindu family whilst growing up in tropics of Guyana. When she was 18 or so she left home on a ship to the UK, not wanting the constraints of her strict upbringing. As an act of liberation she threw all her clothes over board before she arrived. That kind of liberated self-expression rubbed off on me. Clothing to me embodies aspiration, flair and independence.


Young Rion

As an architect is there a link between what your design work and what you wear?

Oh completely. In fact one of my clients said I’m not afraid to be seen in a world of greys and blacks because I am always in colour. Architecture for me begins with the mind and body. It’s the first place we inhabit if you like. And I couldn’t think of a better way to see the beauty of life than through vibrancy and colour.

Rion Willard

Rion in Paul Smith suit

Does colour affect how you feel, or how people you meet feel about you?

Absolutely! Colour is extremely powerful. I find that wearing certain colours instantly change my outlook. I like to think of it as changing my frequency! It starts a conversation and other people tune in or are attracted to different frequencies. In architecture it is used to create a sense of space, serenity, magic and depth. Painters like Josef Albers, experimented with colour techniques with results he called ‘halations’ – an optical effect which gives a kind of resonance or vibration. That kind of powerful resonance lifts the human spirit. It’s something I wholly subscribe to.


Rion Willard: Phone boxes

Do you try to stand out or blend in?

Haha, if I’m being completely honest, I tend to stand out in my bold colour palette. I love to be radiant and playful at events. But I’m all about the context. I often go on retreat to a monastery and I thoroughly enjoy the simplicity of plain comfortable and functional clothing. I can let go and disappear into the landscape. It is equally liberating.IMG_0349

Where do you buy your clothes and what sort of styles do you look for?

Rion Willard: Colourful wardrobe

Rion’s actual wardrobe!

I generally tend to go for slim cut clothing. A mix of high end suits for events and high street smart wear for daily shenanigans. Ted Baker, Paul Smith are always favourites…I love Oscar Milo in Spitalfields. Often I’ll walk around the high end design shops nick ideas and buy cheaper pieces. It’s having an idea that’s interesting. Although what sets all this off are my shirts which are made-to-measure. And it is not in anyway unaffordable as my partner introduced me to to getting them tailored abroad. Just get one shirt that is the perfect cut and fit and have it copied in numerous colours and fabrics if you like. I’m currently building a serious collection of silk shirts. The quality is super. And for around a tenner it’s a bargain!

I also love to pick up pieces and accessories when I travel. From Indian scarves to Chinese jackets. If I lived somewhere warmer I’d wear more traditional Indian clothing, I love the dohtis.

Do you and your partner ever dress as a couple or is it random?

Rion Willard and Yvonne

Rion and Yvonne

Haha… oh there are no coordinated outfits in our house! We tend to challenge each other in a playful way or inspire each other. Yvonne is an actress and was made for the red carpet. I have a slightly more fresh and quirky presentation. We love dressing up together in a playful way and a healthy drop of competition!

What would your dream garment look like?

Rion Willard: dressing up

Fantasy dress

Indian bespoke clothing – but very understated, handmade, beautiful colour, and superb cut.