This is the first season where Andreas Kronthaler was officially credited as being the creative director of Vivienne Westwood’s Gold label. Westwood this week released a statement announcing that the collection would now be known as ‘Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood.’ An important step for the brand, Westwood feels ‘over the years Andreas has taken on ever more responsibility and I wish this fact to be reflected in public perception.’
Day of show, and we all stood outside for a good 15 minutes on a near snowy day. Inside the show music could be heard; it quickly transpired that the final run through was still happening. Once we got in there, it felt a little manic – like the backstage team was buying more time. With an understanding of this being Kronthaler’s first season, with his name up in lights, one was happy to know the team needed time to ensure they got it right.
From the moment that the models came out, it was clear that this label had a new energy. The house of Westwood wouldn’t be what it is without drapery and the bias cut. Here, swagged dresses and tunics in thick red velvet or gold lamé breathed a new confidence into the Westwood legacy. This collection wasn’t any more ostentatious than usual, but it certainly felt louder. Patent leather fluorescent pink shoes, pom-poms, baby blue thigh high boots (on male models), leopard print and bones worn as earrings were just some of the ways that this collection shouted. It felt very editorial, and had a contemporary punky attitude - especially in the way things were awkward or oversized. Sexercise was the title of the collection, and these counter androgynous looks for men were definitely exercising the right to be whatever sex they wished. Super tall blokey boys wore knitted Kansai Yamamoto style one-legged jumpsuits – which were loose, grungy and full of attitude. Just as J.W Anderson gender bending has previously seen him turn his male models into Prada womenswear wannabes, men here too were wearing cropped trousers, socks, and high heel sandals. Whilst a transparent mac worn over a blouse covered with prints of ladybirds and ice creams possessed a naive ugliness. A gender blending position is being backed up with the way the way it will also retail. Many of the pieces will go on sale as unisex.
One of the inspirations behind the collection had came from a recent visit from one of Vivienne’s old assistants from the Buffalo girl days. Since working in fashion, she’s been living as a Buddhist nun for the last ten years. Kronthaler loved to see that even after all of these years of recluse, she still stitches and dyes her own pieces. There were quite a few tongue-in-cheek spiritual references throughout - but most of all it celebrated the joy of making one's own clothes.
The show did have its more luxurious undertones courtesy of a section rendered in rich burgundy, accessorised with thigh high tapestry boots, enamel broaches and knee length boots printed like wooden carvings. Shearling platforms, softer reds and a stand out jacquard jacket were all strong components. Westwood is currently reading Rabelais, so Kronthaler thought it would be nice to look at some Pieter Bruegal paintings, which visually capture the time within which Rabelais' books are set. He fell in love with the rich Renaissance colour palettes, saying: ‘I was meticulously checking the colours of my fabrics to check they were correct, according to the paintings.’
Back to the year 2016, and more contemporary pieces included a dusky pink tracksuit - a playful sports luxe option. It was wearable, and in the midst of so much showmanship, this felt like a rare find. The two other gems were a gold puffa jacket and a cream frilled blouse that was actually made out of a shredded anorak.