I understand the need for commercial reality to shore up innovation, but is it really wrong to expect a little bit more from the Grand Dame of Agitprop fashion?
Rammed-to-the-rafters venue? Check. Front row chock-full of celebrities (lists A through Z)? Check. Pontificating manifesto bearing little or no relation to clothing shown? Check. It must be the Vivienne Westwood show. Since once again showing this second line on home turf some four seasons ago, the routine of the Vivienne Westwood Red Label show has barely altered. The same can be said of the clothes. Ugly as it seems to state, Vivienne Westwood Red Label isn't about design innovation or experimentation. Originally divided from the more pure and extreme Gold Label collection in the early nineties, it's about reworking saleable, seasonless separates culled liberally from Westwood's extensive archives. This season, there was a lusty milkmaid air to proceedings, possibly picking up on the frou-frou feeling of femininity evident elsewhere. Ticking stripes, checks and polkadots came out in the first three outfits, with signature puckered misbuttoning, pulled-out pockets and looped-over belts. Familiar asymmetric tailoring was rendered in summerweight cotton gabardine, Henley-striped wool and an unfortunate motheaten brocade - the less said about which, the better. Elsewhere came the same corsetted evening frocks, the same bunched skirts, the same twisted knitwear and brushed cotton t-shirting we always see. Red Label clothes indeed are so prosaically, classically Westwood (at one time that phrase alone would have been a contradiction in terms) that it seems only the tabloid-pleasing catwalk pranks differentiate between the passing seasons. In case you were wondering, for S/S 2010 these included golden ears of corn, wickerwork umbrellas, dogs shoved down the front of trousers and Big Brother finalists on the runway. Reservations aside, we all clapped and cheered as Westwood marched out, arm in arm with models wearing clothes she evidently had very little to do with. I understand the need for commercial reality to shore up innovation, but is it really wrong to expect a little bit more from the Grand Dame of Agitprop fashion?