Vivienne Westwood Gold Label is no more. It is now called Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood – named after her design partner and husband. Last Saturday in Paris, Andreas marked his debut collection at Palais du Tokyo and I was very fortunate to spend several hours backstage, to watch it all unfold thanks to Dame Vivienne Westwood’s team. Andreas has designed with Vivienne for more than twenty-five years and he said that adding his name is simply to emphasize the differences between his line and Vivienne’s. It is a step in a new direction, which promises a bright future. This collection has been given the name Sexercise. It was very much a genderless collection – with male models wearing skirts and platform sandals, and knee-high platform boots.
Andreas said that the collection is a summary of some of the significant moments of the last few months and he built them as he went along. Vivienne’s friend Sharon, who has her assistant at the time when Buffalo Girls (Vivienne’s AW 1982-83 collection) was released, and later became a Buddhist nun, had influenced the collection. Sharon had sewn and dyed two garments and accessories for her London visit to see Vivienne and Andreas for Christmas. Her love of clothes and the glow of colour is very much present in the collection.
Vivienne is reading Rabelais, who in Andreas’ words “is the literary equivalent of Bruegel”. He was attracted to the colours in Bruegel’s painting of a wedding feast, where men are pictured handing out bowls of soup on an unhinged door used as a giant tray. The colours of his fabrics were matched to make sure they were the same as seen in the painting (“The Peasant Wedding”).
I saw Dame Vivienne Westwood as I explored the backstage area. She was examining all the garments and despite the show only being 40 minutes away, she came over when she saw me, to welcome me and have a chat. She spoke about the Climate Change march we both took part in last year when I was invited to join her. She thanked me and said my support was important. We spoke for a good 15 minutes as she wanted to tell me a lot about the importance of protests and trying to make a social and political difference in the world. I was in awe of her. She is 74, still one of the world’s most celebrated and top designers and still very much an activist. I grew up hearing and watching her as she is one of my idols and inspitations in life. It was truly a special experience.