In past seasons, the tribal makeup, wild hair, and fiery attitude at Vivienne Westwood Red Label
shows have gone a long way toward disguising the fact that the clothes on the runway are generally pretty tame. This season, however, there was a new sense of circumspection at Red Label. Maybe that feeling had something to do with the fact that Westwood had chosen to show in a more intimate venue than usual; certainly it related to the atypically quiet styling, and the relatively taut edit of the collection itself. Stripped—to a degree—of theatrics, today's show actually made a rather compelling case for the Red Label clothes.
Englishness, in its present polyglot incarnation, was the theme du jour. That isn't a new concern of Westwood's, but her take on it felt realistic and freshly relevant, no little thanks to the fact that menswear-inspired suiting, sculptural construction, and check are all rising trends for Fall. Westwood is a practiced hand at all that, and she didn't need to stretch herself to turn out strong looks. A fitted asymmetric suit in gray tweed and cropped, wide-leg trouser cut shown in plaid were especially good; so too the short pencil skirt with a kick of pleats along the hemline. Elsewhere she showed attractive, if familiar, draped silk jersey dresses and some winning tonal intarsia knits with a vaguely tribal motif. Nothing shocking here, in other words, just an uncharacteristically cogent expression of the Red Label signatures.