Were it not for fluoro face-paint, Vivienne Westwood’s Red Label woman could have been a Sloane Ranger. But then, this shouldn’t really come as a surprise. Ever since she dressed Sara Stockbridge up as Liz Windsor, she’s had a love-bait relationship with the establishment. Appropriately, Sara was providing musical accompaniment today, for this was a collection fit for a princess. Here were pastel twinsets, pussycat-bow blouses and prim houndstooth check suits—all with Westwood’s signature cutting and draping.
The styling, however, gave away the revolutionary intent of the collection. From the pillbox hats and strands of pearls to the mauve hair rinses, this was nostalgia on uppers. Which isn’t to say Westwood isn’t actually inspired her inspirations; after all, you’ve got to love something to parody it. There’s no doubt she has genuine affection for her girls in pearls. With the William Morris prints on breezy sundresses, the public schoolgirl boaters and the Midsummer Night’s Dream floral headdresses, it’s clear that she takes her Englishness seriously. Indeed, it’s even been suggested that this collection serves as a peace offering to the poor Duchess of Cambridge, whose dress sense Westwood recently savaged. Certainly Kate would look marvellous going about her official business in some of these striped tea dresses. (Her vacation time is another matter altogether.)
You’d almost have thought that the designer herself had been softened by the newfound propriety on show here. Well, the skeleton necklaces adorning some of the most wholesome looks should have provided a clue to what was about to happen. Taking her bow, the septuagenarian arrived in hotpants, a sequined top hat and vampiric make-up. She then unfurled a large banner protesting climate change. Business as usual at Westwood towers. We’ll take it.