VIVIENNE WESTWOOD RED LABEL AUTUMN/WINTER 2015-16 READY-TO-WEAR LONDON
Dame Vivienne Westwood puts the drama into costume so reliably that her histrionic styling and agitprop proselytizing—this time for the Green Party—should come as a given. Also to be expected are agenda-led accessories (“Get a life,” it said on the straps of wrist-slung bags) and ironically saccharine touches (aw, a BuzzFeed-cute kitty-cat tote). There will always be a wink of overt come-hither (a shoulder strap unpeeled like a half-started banana) and an angry jangle of punky hardness (cuffed necks and unkempt hair nooses tied by skull-chain earrings).
What’s really stimulating about Dame Vivienne, though, is the conservative (don’t worry: small C) stuff, because she understands the interaction of drape and ruche with the feminine body more intimately than any other working designer (although Galliano runs her quite close). Look 39, seemingly quiet-ish after all the fireworks before it, was this Red Label collection’s apotheosis: no fury, just shape and suggestive ripple. The top half of look 5—best to ignore the oversize diapers that cursed a few looks—cast this spell almost as powerfully. Even though Westwood’s husband and creative partner, Andreas Kronthaler, wasn’t around for the bow, another highlight was the riff on his menswear collection of mismatched tailoring, expressed here in partisan tartans and magnified chalk stripes.