Westwood and her team decided to put some clothes that actually seemed relevant to the world outside Elcho Street. Very good they were to see too.
There comes a point in every packed Paris Fashion Week schedule where your eyes glaze over slightly, your face slips and the collections begin to wash over you. Luckily, that generally coincides with the Vivienne Westwood show - and one can view that much the way as it is designed, by rote. There will be ballgowns, there will be corsets, there will be some kind of quasi-apocalyptic tract on the seats to explain, and no doubt a model with something funny drawn on her face. We all clap as Dame Vivienne emerges at the end and then move on, without being moved very much at all. It's quite sad when you think that fifteen years ago people would have been screaming in the aisles, but such is the ever-swinging pendulum of fashion.
Spring/Summer 2012 was much of the same. Although, somewhat surprisingly, the attention-grabbing stunt this time wasn't stapled-on plastic folders or models with moustaches. It was many of the clothes. Between the models' towering platforms, and rag-knotted chignons and melting eighteenth century make-up, Westwood and her team decided to put some clothes that actually seemed relevant to the world outside Elcho Street. Very good they were to see too.
The pamphlet filled with paradoxes and non sequiturs placed to one side, the clothes this time - although idiosyncratically, uniquely Westwood in the way only mismatching lurex socks and giant Elizabethan corsets can be - were sometimes divine. They even interacted with what was going on on other catwalks. A pale blue satin suit with zip-up, long-sleeved stays worn casually over the top? Seems a perfect summary of sports couture, non? Taffeta skirts falling in lappets aside bared legs caught onto the train of the trend for trains, and was it only I who saw a touched of the sixties in Westwood's metallic chit, volume bubbled slightly around the body. 'Orthodoxy is the grave of intelligence' is a phrase Westwood loves to reiterate. This collection was not orthodox, but it was elegant and relevant. I'm not sure if the queen of contrary would like that one bit. Maybe that's why she looked ever so slightly perturbed when she took her bow, husband Andreas in tow, to thunderous applause. Maybe we should expect a return to old tricks next time...