Bustles, exposed undergirdings, swaddled fabrics—the Vivienne Westwood touchstones have been coming fast and furious from all quarters lately. You could even make the argument that the geometric flaps that have appeared everywhere from Calvin Klein to Dolce & Gabbana were pioneered by Dame Viv. So she's finally seizing the moment to explore the more commercial side of her own oeuvre, right? Not a chance.
This is a designer who wears a headband with the anti-consumerist message "branded" scrolled across it, the one who sends out a new muckraking slogan T-shirt each season. This time it read: "We need an estimated $30 billion per year to save the rain forest." That message inspired the show's "Do It Yourself" conservation theme. Call it bedsheet couture: Everything from Westwood's familiar asymmetrically wrapped-and-bustled dresses to the capes flung across one shoulder came in frayed fabrics that looked like they could in previous lives have been tablecloths, drapes, or shower curtains.
Ghetto-fabulous dhoti pants exposed the crotches of models' boxer shorts. Girls wore headscarves as knickers. And there's not much of a retail future in a clear plastic jacket and ball skirt (embroidered in a more traditionally ball skirt-ish striped fabric)—although it undeniably had a certain undone charm. In its very madness, it was classic Westwood.