LONDON, United Kingdom — Vivienne Westwood’s fierce activism on behalf of the planet means she is no longer as engaged in pushing the fashion envelope as she used to be. Her collections have tended to re-runs of pagan tribalism, shredded clothes, Flintstone chic as a rejection of a military-industrial status quo which is, as she sees it, raping the earth. And her shows have celebrated that rejection with a childlike glee.
Same thing on Monday afternoon. A circus atmosphere — live music from Levent and Taylor with Mic Righteous whipping up a gypsy rap, a Man Who Walked on His Hands, identical twins with an oast house of hair on their heads, endless interpretive dancers writhing busily, a Strong Man (who carried Viv on his shoulders for the finale).
The clothes initially took a back seat. The zeroes scribbled on white cotton were supposed to represent the trillions of infinite global greed. Statement? Maybe. Stylish? No. On the other hand, Westwood wanted you to think about the difference the merest fraction of those trillions would make to a rainforest under threat.
And that’s how a curious subtext always asserts itself in her shows. Here, there weren’t just the “classic” elements (according to the shownotes, we were looking at a distillation, the ultimate shirt, the ultimate jacket, and jeans and knitwear) but also a witty integration of political commitment and fashion iconoclasm. Flattened plastic bottles repurposed as sandals, net stockings trapping trash, a reminder of the state of the oceans…it was social comment wrapped in a striking aesthetic. Not conventionally pleasing, but pleasingly thought-provoking.