VIVIENNE WESTWOOD AUTUMN/WINTER 2015-16 READY-TO-WEAR PARIS FASHION WEEK
Perhaps it was her commitment to the cause of climate change that enticed Vivienne Westwood into re-creating hell on earth for her latest show. The basement of an office building on rue du 4 Septembre was deluged with highly unenvironmental red and gold tinsel and, as the mercury rose, a punk rock combo found by Westwood’s husband Andreas Kronthaler launched into a lengthy aural assault that sounded like Improv Night at the Vortex.
The show was called Unisex. It was, according to the notes that were handed out, happening at the same time as Time to Act, a demonstration demanding a stop to climate change, which was taking place in London. An activist spirit definitely inflamed the presentation, but it was so confused that it was confusing. Trousers for women, dresses for men? When was the last time that was even worthy of mention as a thing? The notes lauded the “bisexuality” of a hula skirt. Chew on that one for a millisecond, maybe while you reflect on the first look, a pairing of floral jacquard jacket and red grass skirt.
John Fairchild died last week. His legendary championship of Vivienne Westwood was something that established the independence of his thought. So you went fishing here, hoping to see at least a vestige of what Fairchild saw. And there it was: the proportion, the drape, the eccentric historicism. The shock tactics were tired (the groom looked like he wanted to do a hell of a lot more than kiss the bride), and the fringed skirts became equally so quite quickly, but there is still a quality to Westwood’s work that is so readily identifiable that it qualifies as rare and precious identity. Only she could talk about “shepherds and Sumerians” as reference points for her new collection. Only she could make the clothes to match.