Rain, rain, rain and 24 hours of industrial action by London Underground staff almost brought the capital to a grinding halt on Monday, 9 January. But the (fashion) show must go on and that it did, as London Fashion Week Men’s drew to a close. Is it just in fashion, by the way, that four days is considered a week, or are we mentally preparing ourselves for a return to the bad old days of 1974?
Sogginess and strikes aside, the schedule for the final day already looked a bit limp but for the saving grace of Vivienne Westwood. For the first time British fashion’s favourite grand dame has foregone her usual slot on the Milan men’s schedule to show a co-ed collection in London.
Having been in the business of creating clothing and controversy since the early seventies, Westwood is a designer who has seen - and done - it all before. And her presence certainly helped to underline just how much of an impact her work has had on the fêted younger generation of menswear designers. Along with the scale and success of her brand, that’s a fact that often goes unacknowledged.
You don’t need a crystal ball to know what you’ll see at a Vivienne Westwood show, whatever city you’re in. A muddy palette will be set alight by magpie metallics. There will be a non-traditional take on tailoring, and gender will be subverted somehow. There will be sackcloth and plaid and lumpen, homespun knitwear. Capacious coats will be draped around the body. And garments will be heaped on top of each other seemingly at random but really anything but. Oh,and there’ll be an underlying political sentiment that may or may not work in the context of a commercial fashion endeavour. And commercial it is, because look past the styling - the men in dresses, stacked heels and face paint - and you’ll see classic Westwood pieces that go down a storm among her devoted disciples.
This time Westwood’s cri de coeur was 'ecotricity which seemed to be a catch-all including a response to climate change, a request for a government of the people and a plea to 'buy less, choose well, make it last'. Westwood is skilled at the latter, having recycled ideas and items throughout her career. And it’s her passion, and the calibre of her original work, that ensured there was more to this collection than a tired old rinse and repeat.