One of the unquestionable highlights of every fashion season is Vivienne Westwood. Her primary collection shows in Paris in two weeks, but her Red Label collection always shows here in London. There are a number of things one just expects from any Westwood show. The makeup is going to be something close to bizarre. The looks are going to be eclectic. The silhouettes are going to place close to the body. Vivienne’s going to make a political statement. Every last one of those was true of this collection. The challenge now is how I actually describe all this to you without taking up several thousand words, which would, quite honestly, be the easier approach.
Let’s start with the political message, which is pretty straight forward. On the question of Scottish independence, which comes up for a vote later this month, Dame Westwood gives the question a resounding yes and placed impossible-to-miss “YES” buttons on several of the garments. For those new to the game, this is a presentation feature only. One won’t find the buttons on the ensembles when they hit the stores next spring (I’ve known people who were actually disappointed by this aspect). That’s the easy part.
Now, as for makeup, we see some similar looks that we’ve seen before, with large circles of color, especially white, taking up some of the faces, and broadly smeared bright red lipstick on others. New for this season, however, is the off-centered mustache. Mustaches being the hipster trend that they are, one might question whether Dame Westwood is enjoining the trend or poking fun at it. Either way, the look was amusing. Nothing too awkward appeared in the way of hair styles this season, with the exception of a banded pony tail that, instead of falling toward the back came straight down in front of the models’ noses. Again, rather amusing.
Clothes are a little more difficult to describe. Yes, the majority of the silhouettes still play close to the body. But then, over those there is often a broadly padded jacket or a widely draped cover of some fashion. One piece that I particularly like is a striped cape and hood done in various shades of brown. There’s a nice dress of the same material underneath it, but it’s the cape that gives the ensemble a definite cool factor. I would not have complained had she included more of them.
We see a number of stripes running various directions. In addition to the brown, there’s also a red and gray stripe that plays dominantly in a couple of looks, the most provocative being a dress with one shoulder that refuses to stay up. There was a grey Napolean styled hat shown with that look which really looked attractive. If the hat doesn’t sell with the dress, one would do well to go searching for a replacement.
There are also a number of floral prints in this collection. Florals are not something we see too terribly often in a Westwood collection, at least not this large and with such frequency. Pants, dresses, something that might sort of be a swim suit (maybe), all had large floral prints on them, making sure they were noticed.
Let’s see, what am I missing? There were a couple of baby doll-ish type looks, one of which came down the runway without pants. The jackets are plentiful, widely varied in just about every possible style, and pretty much all with shoulder pads. There are some ruffles and a few touches of lace, but as is common with Dame Westwood, no one element sticks around too terribly long.
All in all, this collection is exactly what we expect from Dame Vivienne Westwood. We were entertained. The fashion was solid. Everyone had a good time. What more could one want on a Sunday afternoon?
Photo credit: Regis Colin Berthelier