Vivienne Westwood was made a Dame of the British Empire last month by Queen Elizabeth II, and she's one of just a handful of designers due to be fêted at the upcoming AngloMania exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute, but she hasn't given up on her trademark brand of rebellious dishabille. Tartans, bustiers, toga wrapping, and Edwardian pannier skirtsall essential elements of the Westwood vocabularycame fast and furious down her wooden-plank catwalk on models with glossy red lips and tousled upswept hair. The layered-up looks had a disheveled, madcap appeal in which Westwood, who took to the runway with her tiny rhinestone horns firmly in place, clearly revels.
If at first glance it's harder for her audience to enjoy, or understand, they need only take it apart to discover some real, wearable pieces. Sure to please her loyal acolytes were the slouchy suede booties, the bustled skirts with unfinished hems, and the little cardigans (of course, she had the models wearing them backward, buttons askew). A navy silk corseted top, meanwhile, might win Westwood some new fans. Those plaid jackets and coats with the fin shoulders, however, will be a harder sell. And it's doubtful that you'll be seeing any of the hologram ball gowns or harem suits at the Costume Institute ball come May.