Dame Vivienne Westwood is a fighter. Known just as much for her fearless campaigning as she is for her equally courageous fashion design, the 76-year-old – who turned up to her SS18 show in her signature six-inch platforms – has opened up a conversation on the fashion industry’s environmental impact.
Westwood has spoken out against everything from fracking to saving the rainforest and wasn’t about to stop shouting her views for her latest collection.
Combining her MAN and Red Label designs for the second time, the designer transformed clothes into an action plan for saving the world.
Four symbols were used to symbolise Westwood’s main ideals in life. A heart stood for love (obviously) as well as a free world, a diamond for greed, a penis for war and lastly, a triangle stood to represent “giants like Shell who rape the earth.”
Westwood’s signature dishevelled tailoring appeared throughout the flamboyant circus display that featured dancers, acrobats and a powerful live performance by Mic Righteous.
Models were made up to look like deathly-white clowns with sewn on red lips possibly sending us a message that you must open your mouth to fight for what you believe in. Makeshift shoes were constructed from plastic water bottles; another major hazard for the environment.
A print made up of the number zero aimed to get the large crowd thinking about money (and how it’s wasted by the government). On first inspection, it looked like an intricate animal print but required a deeper look as with a lot of things in this world.
In fact, money was heavily on Dame Viv’s mind this season. Her one message for today’s mad show, which saw actor Ezra Miller and a rather confused-looking Dermot O’Leary on the front row was: “don’t buy anything.”
Or to put it more clearly: “If you want something from my collection, just choose one thing, style it with your other clothes: buy less, choose well, make it last.”
Westwood no longer cares about making a profit. We’re not sure she ever did. After almost fifty years in business, the Vivienne Westwood brand turned over £33.8 million in 2015, giving her a nice tidy sum to live on and an even more powerful position in society.
Instead of pushing sales, the punk-spirited designer carefully curates her collections so that her die-hard fans – who were in attendance today – are left with one garment they simply can’t live without.
On this occasion, that could be a light-hued tartan suit or perhaps a chic cropped jacket. Maybe even a completely wearable knitted piece.
Westwood recently explained her ethos further at Zalando’s Bread & Butter preview, saying: “Buying less and choosing quality means that designers can make better fashion, not just lead by marketing and commercial interests.”
It’s a path that many younger talents have been influenced by including the equally charming Charles Jeffrey.
The DIY queen also brought her personal political views into play, allowing her performer to shout: “The future is with Corbyn.”
Westwood publicly showed her support for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the run-up to the general election, telling Dazed: “Jeremy clearly wants to go green and creating a fair distribution of wealth is the place to start. From there, we can build a green economy which will secure our future.”
She can hardly have been happy with the news that the Conservatives are still in power. But Westwood won’t let anyone stop her. She will continue to push back against the establishment, using fashion for its one true purpose: to take a stand.
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