She may have always worn her politics on her sleeve, but this season Vivienne Westwood wore her politics everywhere, distributing a manifesto along with bottles of her new perfume, Let It Rock. Portions of the manifesto were printed on bedsheet-size scarves that the models unfurled to reveal the designer's signature dresses, those of the deflated bosoms and exaggerated hips. The show, which was named 56 after the number of days the British Labour government proposes to hold terror suspects in jail without trial, was also ostensibly about an imaginary sex-filled marriage between Marilyn Monroe and an English lord—or so the program notes said.

That's a lot of meaning to jam into a collection, and, likewise, there were a lot of different, seemingly unrelated looks packed onto the runway. Cardigans were pulled on with buttons askew over unfastened dresses; jackets with portrait collars and puffed sleeves were worn with drop-crotch pants; and among Westwood's twisted ball gowns—and other greatest hits—were a holographic sequin dress with padding at the hips and bum, propaganda T-shirts over stuffed bras, and even a couple of beaded show-girl numbers with matching headpieces. A beautiful mess? For members of Westwood's tribe, yes. But to the uninitiated? It just looked nutty.