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Vivienne Westwood Collection at London Menswear Fashion Week 2017

London Menswear Fashion Week 2017

Vivienne Westwood

This was Vivienne Westwood’s first-ever show on the London menswear schedule, and a co-ed show to boot. But as she observed, it was far from the first time she’s put both genders on the same runway. She said: “My very first shows were all mixed. Really, they were. Pirates, Buffalo Girls. . . . men and women together. Although, in this show some of the men are wearing dresses, which isn’t something they did much of before.”

The guys-in-gowns moments included a long-haired model who wore his black one-shouldered tulle-twist dress above black ankle boots and check socks pulled taut above them. One wore a rib-knit sweater as a miniskirt below his powerfully shouldered jacket, another wore a workwear-indigo pinstriped shirt and skirt, and a third wore a full-length cream knit dress with a distressed hem and colored panels at the shoulder. “It helps you explore yourself, doesn’t it?” said Westwood.

Less transgressively, both men and women wore more of that broad-shouldered double-breasted tailoring with gender conventional attire below the belt. This silhouette, particularly when teamed with wide, not-quite-full-length pants and the zigzag pixie–meets–cowboy boots that shod many looks, provided a powerful reminder that while other hotly au courant designers have been working a similar seam recently, Westwood did this (like so many things) way before anyone. This tailoring sometimes came accessorized with phallic totems: jeweled or metallic balls (and the rest) on chains.

A print used throughout showed a crowd of faces: Marionette faces, creepy pagan totem faces, and Westwood’s own—she peeked maniacally forth, too, from between the lapels of a beige check gridded with the finest lines of green and red. Westwood was placing herself among the cast of a show imagined as theater. That hooded scarlet woman, the mordant frock-coated retainer, the courtly chorister in a golden dress with a drooping sash of lurid green were others—but the narrator was the look before that woman in red, a distressed jester overwritten with Westwood exhortation to use ecologically unimpactful electricity providers.

Whatever her critics contend, Westwood is committed to recycling: Suiting for both sexes plus one lovely ice-velvet waistcoat were decorated with disjunctive patterns Westwood had culled from the Ballets Russes, and as often many looks here were tweaked updates from her existing canon, down to the wonderful darted enhancements at bosom and bottom in her closing few dresses. Even the hand-applied nail art, including tiny finger puppets, was made from the leftover wrapping paper that she and her husband, Andreas, and their family had got through during Christmas. Westwood is a wild and benevolent force, still vital after all these years—we should relish her.

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