Vivienne Westwood Gold Label Autumn/Winter 2014

The Grand Dame’s latest collection was a collision of sorts; not to imply a lack of thought, but more a pre-meditated explosion of her latest influences. In their show notes, Andreas Kronthaler and Vivienne Westwood discuss how costume has always been prominent in their designs over the last twenty years. The hall of the Oratoire de Louvre, the cinematic classical music and the bright disco lights marked a show to remember.

The collection combined the influences of the Ashaninka tribe in Peru, which Westwood visited in 2013, and mixed tribal-inspired cloaks and capes with her trademark British flair with familiar Westwood doses of tartan, corsets, and angular drapery.  The costume influences shone through, and Westwood credited the Charles Frederick Worth archives at the Victoria & Albert Museum as her dramatic source of inspiration: from eclectic bizarre textures, to strong laden shoulder pads and voluminous ball gowns in maniac silhouettes. 

Westwood, a vehement campaigner for sustainability (since initial work with the 50:50 environmental campaign and her subsequent efforts with climate change), didn’t allow her ethical principles to slip out of this latest collection. The subtle rainforest and jungle prints covering dresses and blouses, textures of shredded savannah grass on the oversized coats, along with the splashes of military green on the jackets and cross body sashes, all proved to be emblems of ‘the fight for the environment'.

The Ashaninka tribe seemed to have become Westwood’s muse this season. The inhabitants of the tribe represent the duality of femininity: on the one hand, an innate sense of survival, on the other, an undefeated sense of elegance. Of course, Westwood hasn’t lost her flair for the opulent and operatic. The brocade trousers and skirts mingle alongside the printed tunics (lathered in orbs and shimmering under tribal necklaces) to create a synthesis (like Livia Firth’s ethically sourced fashion initiative) that showed how tribal could be tackled and transformed into yet another dramatic Westwood clan.

Runway Photography: Courtesy of Vivienne Westwood
Backstage Photography: Tom Selmon