Vivienne Westwood is a bit like the contrary girl in the nursery rhyme - when she is good, she is very very good; alas, when she is bad, she is horrid. Her shows have recently become about turning a blind eye to some of her more dubious exploits (or, more accurately, those of her design team) and focussing on the good. As usual, S/S 2010's mixed bag offered good and bad in abundance - abundance truly being the word, in a show that felt like nothing less than a fashion endurance test. There were some great pieces, notably chunky jackets in raw-edged ticking and a cleverly box-cut cream mackintosh with puckered misbuttoning. Westwood was the first at it with bondage, and consequently her interpretation of next season's trend was assured - trussed-up bikinis or silk-crepe dresses with slits, slats and straps cleverly knotted every which-way. Unfortunately, for every one of these very good ideas, there were several more bad ones - namely when Westwood got on her soapbox and used the clothes as palimpsets to set the world to rights. The politicking this season was once again her beloved 'Gaia' and climate change - but unlike her punk work, this collection could be so thoroughly stripped of any adumbrated meaning that her manifesto, for the most part, remained firmly sandwiched between bum and seat. Perhaps it would have been better off staying there - this season, she literally turned the clothes into advertisements for her politics, sewing plastic A4 wallets (complete with ring-bind holes) onto bodices with sloganed signs slotted inside. It looked as bad as it sounds, ditto shredded ballgowns, scribble-pattern multicolour brocade and rococo-the-clown eighteenth century fright-club hair and make-up. These kind of gimmicks rendered the show a pantomimic hodge-podge, a confusing ordeal for everyone involved. That said, a few deep breaths and a hell of lot of editing will bring this collection back not only into the realm of the wearable, but even the adorable.
There were some great pieces, notably chunky jackets in raw-edged ticking and a cleverly box-cut cream mackintosh with puckered misbuttoning.