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Vivienne Westwood is a British institution. By now, we’ve learned not to expect the new from her, but we certainly expect the old – the adaptation and reinterpretation of historical garments into modern settings. This is her forte and with her Red Label, she rarely deviates from it.
The British Fashion Council show space in Somerset House was peppered with celebrities, paparazzi and fashion bloggers, but, as with most Westwood pursuits, the Red Label fall/winter 2014-15 show concerned itself more with politics than personalities. The invitation read loud and clear: “Fracking, we need to talk.” On the front, a black eagle, flying across the Westwood orbs, spread it wings to bear the message “Leonard Peltier is Innocent.” It’s impossible not to admire how the designer has brought her ideologies onto catwalk after catwalk, never letting up that there’s a great deal we should be concerned about and that fashion is as much an art form, capable of igniting change, than any other medium.
This season, the Red Label was exactly that – the color was injected into each look, in lipsticks or flowers or skirt linings, and some looks were dominated by the hue, like scarlet taffeta dresses, red tartan suits, and crimson braces. Alice in Wonderland-inspired many of the pieces – jackets with lapels that folded over into velvet hearts and mad hatter hats. But the collection also gave nod to post-war fashions with burnt umber coats, headscarves, pillbox hats, and luxurious faux furs. There were also crinolines and even a 1980s power suit and yet, despite the range of temporal inspirations, it wasn’t remotely disjointed. The collection was thoroughly British, thoroughly nostalgic, and most of all, thoroughly Westwood.
In the finale, Dame Vivienne herself walked the runway, arm interlinked with that of her granddaughter, who modelled in the show, carrying an enormous, and well-deserved bunch of English roses.