Her latest A/W 2011 collection was as straight as they come, or at least, as straight as they come chez Westwood.
One would never deign to accuse Dame Vivienne Westwood of thinking straight - for a woman whose entire career has been characterised by a perpetual search for the difficult yes rather than the easy no, it could only be taken as an insult. And yet her latest A/W 2011 collection was as straight as they come, or at least, as straight as they come chez Westwood. That caveat is essential, especially when models sashayed and shante-d their way down the Westwood catwalk with Poiret (slash Poirot) marcel-waved locks and a dashing slash of crimson lippy across their lips. Straight was the last word that came to mind.
Westwood stated that her inspiration was 'student types': one suspects she found those types not on the campuses of rebellious London colleges, but the pages of 'Brideshead Revisted'. The fey ghost of Sebastian Flyte was omnipotent, not only in the Quentin Crisp styling, but in the clothes themselves - a selection of puckered tailoring with a vaguely twenties air. Oxford brogues and oxford bags paid tribute to Flyte's fellow dons, alongside preppy staples like boating-striped blazers, cricket sweaters and even a collegiate cardigan embroidered with house crest. Naturally, everything was a bit lopsided, button stands folded like moibus strips, trousers drunkenly sprouting extra waistbands and curling up to end a few inches short on the calf. Then again, in their own way those details are, for Westwood, as classic as WASP-y sportswear separates.
The collection revolved around tailoring, Westwood's neatest trick rendering the single-versus-double breasted debate obsolete by slanting a single-breasted jacket to double-breasted proportion at the lapels. That is the kind of Savile Row sleight-of-hand Westwood has always revelled in, but more often than not the lewd catwalk pranks that have become a sad leitmotif of her menswear shows have obscured the cuts. This time, all we had was the masculine maquillage and some poster-paint bright accessories (less a stunt and more a bubbling sub-trend this fashion week) - and the collection was all the better for it. After a while, your eye even adjusted to the carmine lips and pansticked five o'clock shadow. Watch out for their resurgence at a Fresher's ball near you.