Style & Grooming

Vivienne Westwood Delivers Rallying Cry at Fashion Week

The designer puts climate change on the agenda at her S/S18 show – plus, she reveals her thoughts on the election results

  • TextTed Stansfield
  • PhotographyRachel Lamb

Vivienne Westwood sure knows how to put on a show. Yesterday, at a leisure centre in west central London, the designer unveiled her S/S18 collection, amid a flurry of dancers and circus artists. Taking to the catwalk alongside models, these performers danced down the runway, pulling off extraordinary gymnastic moves (and nearly careering into the audience) – one man even walked down the catwalk on his hands. The show climaxed with the whole cast taking to the runway with the godmother of punk herself perched on top of a particularly muscled circus artist’s shoulders, waving her arms in time to the music.

The clothes themselves represented Vivienne Westwood staples – explosive, deconstructed tailoring packed with a political punch. Westwood, a tireless environmental campaigner, used the show to address climate change: some models had rubbish stuffed into their fishnet tights, while others had Evian bottles strapped to their feet for shoes. At the same time, some clothes had political slogans and climate change statistics emblazoned on them, while others featured riffs on playing card suit symbols (a heart for love, a diamond for greed, a phallus for war and a triangle for “giants like Shell and Monsanto who rape the Earth”).

Backstage, Westwood’s mind wasn’t on clothes but on Corbyn. Speaking to journalists she enthused about the leader of the Labour Party and his recent success at the polls. “I just really want to talk about Jeremy Corbyn because there’s no other government in the world that has a strong political opposition. Only England,” she said. “I just think that [Labour’s] manifesto is spot on…” What really excited the designer was witnessing a political awakening, so to speak, among the younger generation. “What I want to say, is that because the young people voted for him, that is a movement forward. The Trumps and the Teresa Mays of the world want to go backward.”