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Show Report

Show Report: Vivienne Westwood S/S 17 Menswear

by Lou Stoppard on 20 June 2016

Vivienne Westwood pulls from the past and her own extensive archive, reminding us of the highs and highlights of her lengthy career. A lot of what she pioneered is having a moment right now. Why wouldn't it be, given that it's the 40 year anniversary of punk?

Vivienne Westwood pulls from the past and her own extensive archive, reminding us of the highs and highlights of her lengthy career. A lot of what she pioneered is having a moment right now. Why wouldn't it be, given that it's the 40 year anniversary of punk?

One expected Vivienne Westwood to make Brexit her cause celebre at her S/S 17 show. We need great Britons like her to remind us how important it is that we stay Great Britain. But no, it was Julien Assange. He, she argues, has done no wrong and must be freed. Remember him? A while back you couldn't open a paper or turn on the TV without news of the pale-haired maverick. Today, thanks to an asylum plea, he's sitting in a small studio, converted from an office, in the Ecuadorian Embassy with a little cat (@embassycat) keeping him company. Shut away there, he makes for less exciting headline news. But that's Vivienne Westwood - she champions the things it's easy to forgot to skip over. The issues that we all vaguely know are troublesome but still let float to the back of our minds.

That ethos informs her and Andreas Kronthaler's design as well - she pulls from the past and her own extensive archive, reminding us of the highs and highlights of her lengthy career. A lot of what she pioneered is having a moment right now. Why wouldn't it be, given that it's the 40 year anniversary of punk? She is the original style doyen of the movement. Her work also fits into the gender fluid, sexually open climes we're in. Bondage gear is all over the runways, notabely in London, Westwood's home. So it makes sense that her S/S 17 collection felt typically her - despite her reputation for irreverence, you're actually rarely in for a shock at a Westwood show these days - but also in step with the zeitgeist. Often Westwood collections exist within their own bubble and world - the aesthetic is so unmistakable that it's hard to equate the offer to the happenings or trends on other runways. This season, not so. That said, there's something usual and striking about those Westwood men in frocks. They don't look fey or foppish like those on other runways, despite the clinging knits, but strangely rugged and macho, in a traditional sense. It's a very unique androgyny. In fact, they look like Andreas. He's been dressing in gender fluid garb and being brave and bold in his style choices long before the current rush of open-mindedness. Trust team Westwood to be ahead of the curve.

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