As I write this, my heart is broken and I am internally weeping. For anyone who knows me Vivienne Westwood has been my number one designer for nearly 10 years. My excitement when it comes to a new show is uncontrollable. My passion is not dissimilar to Dawn French in the episode of The Vicar of Dibley, where she submerges herself in the chocolate fountain. I want to be submerged in the anticipation and the wonder of the joyous occasion that is her new Gold Label collection (her most luxurious line). This time though my positive emotions had been replaced with upset, disappointment and in parts anger at her rehashing of designs and styles we have seen many times over.
Gold Label, like I have mentioned, is the pinnacle of the Westwood brand, before you hit custom made couture. It is crafted in such a way that it is ethereal, regal and unique. Her designs have inspired a whole plethora of designers old, new and the up-and-coming. But if this collection for spring summer 2015 inspires I’ll be very surprised.
It reminded me of nursery rhyme characters going to a funeral or out on the town. It housed every spectrum of colour and fabric print imaginable. Not only were the fabric choices sporadic, but also were the head adornments. As models wore bonnets, oversized bows and woven cane baskets on their heads (!), which reminded me of something a small child would do to get attention.
Just before any show the Westwood website allows their fan base an incite to the collection inspiration. This season they went back to their extensive archives and chose Westwood’s embroidery, whilst combining new technology of laser cutting on certain fabrics.
One thing you can rely on in a collection by the newly elfin-cropped designer, is that there are clear historical references. This time was no exception and quite frankly spared this rather disjointed collection. Without this point of reference the throng of designs would be more erratic than normal.
The presentation had no usual flow, going from a series of plain black dresses to a Georgian frock coat with laser cut lace appliqué, to a slime green floral cape with copper floral lining, placed over the top of an ivory cowl necked mini dress with metallic flock edging.
The digital printing of period paintings across several of the dresses, tops and accessories was truly beautiful, and reflected the venues period décor to a T. With scenes depicting an art gallery or close ups of images of days gone by.
Westwood’s tailoring is usually one of her strongest in any new line. Her fitted jackets, tight pencil skirts and slim tailored trousers are continually on point. This time however it was a different story. A pustule green ruffle in the centre of the suit jacket ruined a pink and black striped pencil skirt suit with a digital floral design. Whereas a strong shouldered belted trousers ensemble in pale grey squiggle print, left me screaming THANK YOU! at my laptop. Something at last that screams all things fabulously Westwood.
The closing of the Gold Label show is without a doubt the best, it’s the chance for Westwood and Andreas (her husband) to showcase their true capabilities. It was at this point in the show I prayed for a showstopper. One came, just not in a good way. A fitted floral embroidered mini dress arrived in gold, complete with metallic overlays, which reflected exquisitely under the lights. The one thing that ruined this Gold Label design, a red and white striped train positioned from the hips flowing to the floor. The train screamed picnic blanket, which I suppose would be good if you wanted somewhere to lay your food at a social occasion, fashionable and functional.
Westwood’s Gold Label is her chance to show the fashion world, her fans and fashionistas what you can do regardless of age. This is not the first collection she has produced that has left me feeling crestfallen and angry at her lack of uniqueness. This is Paris Fashion Week, the couture capital of the world, and she’s produced amazing dresses with picnic blankets attached to them! I want Punk, anarchy and pioneering fashion. Not what a tablecloth would look like when attached to an embroidered and bejewelled dress.
I’m asking, no pleading for a collection that will make me fall in love with her and her designs again, because as of this moment in time, I’m starting to loose all sense of faith in the matriarch of British fashion.