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Thursday 2 October 2014

Backstage at Vivienne Westwood: Where punk still reigns

Published 12/01/2013 | 07:00

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Bairbre's photographs from front row at the show
The milliner Stephen Jones chats backstage

airbre Power went backstage at the Vivienne Westwood spring summer 2013 show

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Vivienne Westwood, the multi-tasking godmother of punk, is always worth a double-take each season because of her originality, tartan capers and skill at crossing sexiness with subversion.



Going backstage for her Red Label spring/ summer 2013 London show last September, I was fully prepared for surprises.

Charlotte Free, the blonde supermodel (walked around with her face painted green. Legendary milliner Stephen Jones chatted amiably beside deliciously quirky floral headpieces.

Titian-haired Westwood stood like Boadicea dressed in grey business suit and wedges, later changing into shorts and tee, adding an inky monocle and moustache for her finale appearance, dramatically unfurled from a flag promoting her campaign for climate change.

However, it was the fashion dame's comments about consumerism that resonated after feasting my eyes on her thoroughly ladylike collection.

It was a bit like ‘Mad Men’ meets Mrs Thatcher in twinset and pearls. The hair and hats looked retro royal, but the make-up was neon Andy Warhol.

“My motto is ‘buy less, choose well, make it last’. You should wait until you really need something before you buy it. In fact, don't buy this collection,” Westwood has said.

Fighting talk from the 71-year-old designer whose eccentricity and zealous campaigning for a better world keeps her very relevant.

At her own admission, she has fallen out of love, at times, with the industry. Ditto most women. It's easy to lose your fashion mojo, particularly in January and Vivienne makes a good point about wardrobe reflections. Think before you buy. Buy well and look for longevity. Can you afford fast fashion?

Always an influential style rebel, Westwood’s spring/summer 2013 collection also challenges us to take a new look at traditions.

Going backstage with DHL (Westwood’s official logistics partner which transports her collections and samples around the world), it was fascinating to see the full breadth of the collection.

The Grand Dame and fashion rebel re-worked classical pieces with a modern twist and I’m happy to report that her genius for the hour-glass silhouette and sexy decolletage continues through from her mid-market Red Label collection up to her couture Gold label and the more affordable Anglomania range (see above right).

Westwood’s clothes have the power to seduce. Just ask the women who wear her bustle-effect skirts.

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