Blast from the Past
Dame Vivienne Westwood presented her latest show at Paris Fashion Week, inspired by an illuminated manuscript from the 1300’s. Yes, really. She emphasized her love of medieval items, such as art, stained-class windows and pageants, and the rich fabrics brought back to England as a result of the Crusades. “There’s always something space-age about medieval costume, you look into the past to project the future, like a telescope. All designers create their vision of the future”.
The collection displayed at the Autumn/Winter Paris Fashion Week contained hooded capes, cropped jackets, over sized coats, ballgowns, pinstripe suits, nipped waists, black tutus, pointy shoulders and plenty of puffed sleeves. Westwood combined an eclectic combination of prints and decorative elements: polka dots, squares, rings, floral embroidery, sequins, feathers and images of birds and strawberries. In a further allusion to the Dark Ages, the models had makeup bruises on their bodies, reminiscent of the plague.
“I like to mix standard cutting with flow, and structure with soft things, and pieces of cloth with some historical garment”. Adhering to the theme of the past, Westwood had great fun mixing up her decades of inspiration and combining time periods – voluminous white skirts with medieval prints in bright pink and turquoise are one such example. Other time-defying creations included a gold sequined dress with blue fishing net, a large ostrich feather boa draped over a high-waisted black silk skirt, and 1940’s gloves tied to the models’ wrists.
Green is the New Black
The flamboyant designer is also incredibly passionate about the environment and climate change; indeed, her messages in support of environmental policy and micro-businesses are emblazoned across t-shirts and coats. Her primary cause at the moment is the protection of the Amazon rainforest and the prevention of deforestation. The show opened with heavily made-up models draped in hooded cloaks with the phrase “Climate Revolution” printed on the back.
As ostentatious as some of her creations might be, many of the garments worn by the models were slightly subdued, resulting in the kind of creation that women would actually invest in and wear. As Vogue points out, the kind of clothes that can save the environment are the ones that will be worn, and not waste away in the back of someone’s closet.
Inventive, Creative, Aware
With voluminous silhouettes, embroidered embellishments and oversize knitwear, this was a display to remember. The show closed with a dramatic selection of dresses – a black gown with leather shoulders, a dress with slit-panels, another with an over sized balloon hem, and a knitted gold top with an asymmetrical tutu. Westwood’s collection certainly lived up to her fashion philosophy: “I believe that designers always create a virtual reality: they create clothes for a place that does not quite exist, somewhere better.”
Grace Matthews is a London-based fashion blogger who is keeping warm this winter courtesy of her wool coats, chai tea and the friendly neighborhood cat.