The British Embassy, with its rooms full of nineteenth-century furniture and walls hung with twenty-first-century art, was a perfect backdrop for Vivienne Westwood, who has often fused past and future to great effect over the course of her four decades in fashion. Of late, however, her interest in the future has had more to do with the issue of climate change. Today's show, for instance, was called Climate Revolution. Westwood insisted the title actually had nothing to do with the collection, but there was an unfinished quality to the clothes that you could read as an anarchic delight in dystopian rawness—if you were inclined, that is, to the designer's apocalyptic train of thought. (Cormac McCarthy's The Road is one of her favorite books.)
There's never anything slick about a Westwood collection, but here the clothes seemed positively homespun, as if a refugee dressmaker was doing her best with a sewing machine. Hems were ragged, seams trailed, sleeves were slashed. One leather skirt hung in pieces. Bodices were encrusted with what could have been brooches, as if that refugee were wearing all of her jewelry at once. The large tattered cutouts on dresses, filled with puffs of fabric, were apparently intended to echo beetles' wings, but they looked just as much like chaotic attempts at mending.
There were tea dresses and sundresses, and the sort of pieces that have represented the ideal lady in the Westwood ethos, but they looked worn-out, almost ruined. That same sense carried through into the lamé eveningwear, although one dress cut from a lace of tarnished silver oak leaves had a faded glamour. It felt like a metaphor for the Albion idyll fallen on hard times. Even the mighty oak must suffer.
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