A Vivienne Westwood show just wouldn't be a true Vivienne Westwood show without a pontificating manifesto to back up each and every look - and, naturally enough, Autumn/Winter 2009 didn't disappoint. Westwood called the collection 'Plus Five Degrees' - surely something every winter collection should be aiming at (at least for London-based designers like Westwood)? But no, La Vivienne's point wasn't quite as clear-cut as that. Last winter she was inspired - or at least inflamed - by rainforest destruction. A season ago it was 'Do It Yourself' anti-fashion. This season, Westwood looked to James Lovelock's dytopian climate-change tome 'The Vanishing Face of Gaia', which rather obliquely sent her off on a trip about Greek goddesses, Renaissance armour and the 15th century allegorical paintings of Andrea Mantegna. This was all an excuse for pretty much Westwood's standard crowd-pleasing rag-bag of well-polished tricks: vaguely Greek drapery, curvilinear tailoring and all manner of odd fins, flaps, lappets and trains dangling from unexpected areas. Westwood's knitwear, as ever, was accomplished: this season there were jacquard sweaters, back-to-front cardigans and Pagan motifs knitted into neat leggings and socks, often bristling with oversized wooly tassels. Echoes of last season's 'Do It Yourself' came in swathed, swagged and slightly messy raw-edged bales of silk taffeta strapped around the models' bodies as unconventional evening attire. However, whether this will make it onto the shop floor, or indeed whether a bolt of textile haphazardly thrown across a torso and secured with a few tacking stitches really constitutes fashion, remains up in the air. Westwood's tub-thumping manifesto ended with the line 'The present outlook is certainly something we didn't expect', but we can only assume she wasn't talking about the collection. From concealed platforms to swathed and corseted overblown evening dresses (and one too many tutus for comfort) this was formulaic déjà vu. Nevertheless, three cheers (quite literally) for Pamela Anderson: this season's unexpected and enchanting star model who managed the nigh-on impossible task of upstaging Dame Viv herself. Now that is something new.
Westwood looked to James Lovelock's dytopian climate-change tome 'The Vanishing Face of Gaia'.