Andreas Kronthaler as creative director for and husband of Dame Vivienne Westwood steps out of the relative shadows and takes the limelight in this spring/summer collection. What, you’re not familiar with Andreas? That’s not surprising. Despite the fact he’s been married to Dame Westwood for 25 years, it is her name that most people recognize. She typically is the one doing all the speaking for the label and is often the one leading environmental protests across the UK. She’s the one we’re accustomed to seeing.
So, Andreas gets his name added to this collection. What’s the difference? Not much. Andreas doesn’t infuse as much social activism, but he is a lot heavier on the deconstructionism in his clothes this season. In fact, there are times he deconstructs so much that there’s not a lot left. Huge, gaping holes leave entire sides of garments wide open. Color-coordinating your undies is probably a good idea, along with making sure there are no unwanted holes.
This is, again, an attempt at a genderless collection. Andreas tried this last season and pushes it a little harder this season. Genderless in Andreas’ mind, however, follows along the line of men wearing skirts and women wearing masculine-styled suits rather than creating truly androgynous designs. By the end of the collection, one might be tempted to ask whether this is really genderless or simply creative cross-dressing.
Dresses are the strongest point in this collection. Regardless of who might be wearing it, there is a strong sense of independence without completely stepping out of the mainstream. These are the pieces buyers are most likely to request. These and some of the suits are long-standing best-sellers and that seems likely to continue.
What we probably won’t see in stores are the bird’s nest hats or the ensemble made entirely of straw. There’s one, uhm, “ensemble” that looks more like a caveman’s bearskin tucked humorously into a brown g-string, a rather ultimate form of deconstruction.
The collection has all the fun and eccentricities of any Westwood collection, but Andreas spends more time exploring creative new silhouettes that are impossible to describe and less time trying to make an environmental statement. Whether his name stays at the front of the collection next season is not something we can speculate. We think he deserves the extra attention, but not everyone wants to be in that spotlight.
[Note: an earlier version of this article contained several errors regarding the brand. Our thanks to the label’s representatives for helping correct those matters.]