September 29, 2011 Paris
The new venue of the Opera Ballroom at InterContinental Le Grand provided a new air of elegance. To complement its gilt-y environs and Brobdingnagian chandelier, Westwood brought in the 16-year-old pianist Kyle Nash-Baker, who performed his own compositions based on the designer's World Family Tree, a very extensive conceptual diagram she included in her show notes.
As the models walked the runway-in-the-round at their dreamy, vamping pace to Nash-Baker's tinkly strains, Westwood's ideas about a green economy crystallized without explanation into beautiful sense. These high-romance looks seemed cobbled together from leftovers and detritus, both the exquisite (satin, lamé, sequins, lace) and the ordinary (nylon, webby fishnet knits). Even the clownish makeup and bright, holey socks worn with Sex-style platforms—the designer's in-house recycling—had a certain proud refinement.
Westwood's brocade and tapestried oversize corsets, she said, were meant to feel like armor, but more than anything they made you think of ruined royalty. Perhaps there's an admonishing message there about empires falling if problems aren't fixed. Or not. The good thing about Westwood is that she doesn't let her battle with the world's ills dash her optimism. Before her slightly anarchic bow—with husband and models in tow, all having a grand old time—she closed the show couture-style, with a lovely bride in a pannier gown of rose-embroidered sequins. What says new beginnings more than that?