MILAN, JANUARY 17, 2016
by LUKE LEITCH
Sometimes, you drift into a show with your head on autopilot. This reviewer must have been borderline catatonic before Vivienne Westwood’s collection this afternoon. How so? Well, first a conversation with Andreas Kronthaler was cut short because he had to help a strapping model named Fabio into a silver lamé dress. Passing the time by staring at the accessories table, the necklace made of soda can pull tabs stood out—but the silver and bronze penis pendants failed to register. And then there was the name of the collection: Be Specific. Whatever could it have been about?
Doh! The runway lights threw it all into relief. A fishtail fine-knit top was open at the back for a flash of spine. A printed rich green chaotically ruched dress, low enough for an “oops, pardon me” of nipple, was worn beneath a violet cardie embroidered with what looked like rutting stags. All this above some fine 4-inch platform creepers. The overall effect was slatternly, in a good way. Plus there was Fabio, a one-shouldered black silk gown—with a train—over check trousers, and a big-shouldered silver scene-stealer teamed with a miniskirt and one of those fetching phallic accessories. There was a robe in pinstripe. How much clearer could Westwood make it?
Yet there was boy as well as girl in this menswear show. Suiting was exaggerated at the shoulder and suppressed at the leg and wrist: cropped and chopped and changed—reassigned. One regatta striped suit with high-shine 12-hole red work boots was glorious society punk. On the way out, one retail buyer said: “They do all this, and then you get to the showroom and it’s full of great commercial stuff.” Clever, huh? Seditious on the runway and solicitous off it. Very clever, indeed.