No one ever accused Vivienne Westwood of being shy about expressing her opinions, and she stayed true to form with her occasionally heavy-handed new collection. She dubbed her show AR for "active resistance to propaganda," and some of the least compelling looks were splashed graffiti-style with those initials. In a repeat of last season, several models wore chokers and belt buckles that spelled "branded," while others sported tank tops with the slogan "I am not a terrorist"as did the designer herself when she came out for her own leisurely stroll down the runway. The subversive wit that 30 years ago led Westwood to print two naked cowboys across a T-shirt has given way to a blunter approach, but it remains to be seen how many of her customers want to look like a walking political statement.
Still, London's grande dame of punk has certainly earned the right to speak her mind, and she remains a muse for many of fashion's current up-and-comerswhich may explain why her extreme, fitted jackets and tousled, asymmetric ball gowns looked familiar. (Her signature tartans, in fact, had made an appearance across the Seine earlier that very morning at Junya Watanabe.) She stayed one step ahead of the youth brigade, though, with her knits, which looked great in muted intarsias. And those taffeta dresses were pure Westwood, with their echoes of both high school proms and Rembrandt. They could have been designed with one of her more conspicuous celebrity guests, nouveau burlesque artist Dita Von Teese, in mind. Despite the 11:30 a.m. time slot, Von Teese's trademark décolletage was on full displayhere clearly was one customer not inclined toward slogan tees.