Vivienne Westwood brings the circus to London for her Menswear Show
Never failing to provide a spectacle with a statement, Vivienne Westwood closes her menswear show in London like Queen Boadicea, riding the shoulders of a muscular acrobat.
Far from the usual catwalk show, this one included theatrical performances reminiscent of a circus: dancers in giant metal hoops twirled down the catwalk in mesmerising motion, contortionists bending and unfolding into ever stranger shapes. Set in a sedate leisure centre, models strutted, whirled and rolled down the runway to the jazzy chorus of “the future is Corbyn”, provided by the bohemian band Levent & Taylor.
The collection paid homage to the usual Westwood staples, with campaign slogans adorning items, corseted dress and pinstripe detailing rippling through the designs in unusual and unexpected ways.
The collection expressed Westwood’s concerns for environmental sustainability. The message of the collection was presented through the use of symbols inspired by playing cards. In notes distributed at the show, we were told that the “spotty animal print” was “meant to be noughts which endlessly multiply money by 10 over and over. We only need a few to save the rainforest but billions disappear ever day in global inflation.” Hearts were symbolic of love and freedom, diamonds represented greed and propaganda, phallic symbols symbolised war, and the triangle represented major corporations pillaging the resources of mother nature, “like Shell and Monsanto”.
Many of the models were festooned with fishnet tights that were littered with plastic debris, discarded cans, empty bottles and other such paraphernalia. Faces were painted like macabre clowns: red noses, white flake-textured facades and popsicle coloured hair.
Androgynous figures emphasised the theme of gender fluidity with lose fitting shapes dominating the collection. Dozens of signature gowns dotted the runway: elegant black and sheer taupe creations, some with seductive open-chest collars, others formed with graceful crumb-catcher necklines, were presented on male models in a subversive move towards gender neutrality.
One of the most notable reoccurring slogans in the collection was the ‘Motherfucker’ scrawl on many of the t-shirts, including the one Westwood wore as she hit the runway at the end of the show. In an interview with the Guardian, Westwood explained the significance of the ‘Motherfucker’ slogan: “We are fucking the Earth. This is NASA information, it’s official information, but the world is ignoring it. There will only be 1 billion people left by the end of this century, because the Earth will be mostly inhabitable. This is where we’re heading and it’s disguised from us.”
Yet despite the sombre message, there was an inescapable vibe of fun, enthusiasm and hope present in the collection and atmosphere at the Seymour Leisure Centre, in London’s Marylebone. It’s difficult to deny that the Westwood show provided a notorious finale to the men’s fashion week. It was a show packed with surreal imagination and creativity.