David Attenborough's Frozen Planet may have been an unexpected televisual hit, but you didn't imagine it would ever hit the catwalks any time soon. Then again, this is Vivienne Westwood: she's shown codpieces on women and corsets on men, so it seems anything's fair game.
Of course, for Westwood, the Frozen Planet theme is an opportunity for her beloved soap boxing: as for the past ten or so seasons, it was on climate change. That kind of explains the pale blue lips and icicle-fringed hair of the models at her Autumn/Winter 2012 show - far too infrequently that show notes carry credits for 'Special Effects Make-up', especially during menswear. Westwood hates climate change, but loves polar bears (so say her show notes) so she sent her models to the North Pole - it was a winter collection shown in an unusually chilly Milan season, after all.
Frozen was a fitting description for the clothes too: frozen in the past. Westwood's archives have been ripped apart by every fashion designer from Rei Kawakubo downwards over the past forty-plus years, hence half the stuff we saw has already assumed classic status. They're classics westward fans have bought again and again - and, no doubt, will do again for winter. I noted the Clint Eastwood jacket (this time with a thick knit hem rather than ribbing), the oversized Chico coat (in creamy shearling, just like the 1982 Buffalo collection), and plenty of plaid. Some was stitched into one of next season's keynote patchwork suit, sometimes it simply backed a more sober black number, or dribbled into drop-crotch trousers.
The difficulty with Westwood's combination of staid house classics and OTT styling gimmicks is that the cons of the latter can often overshadow the benefits of the former. Westwood is a woman who once expounded the minute, millimetre-precise shifts in seam that evoke the evolution of mens' tailoring over three centuries. Spray that subtlety with theatrical frost and festoon it with plastic ice like an amusement park ride, and it's highly likely your captive audience will miss the point entirely.