2010 September 20

Runway Reviews: Matthew Williamson, Vivienne Westwood Red Label

Vivienne Westwood Red Label Spring 2011 Vivienne Westwood Red Label Spring 2011
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(LONDON) Vivienne Westwood Red Label
Her main line shows in Paris, but that doesn’t mean Vivienne Westwood can’t have a bit of fun in her native London—and push her agenda while she’s at it. The famously political designer (not only is she very vocally eco-friendly, but this season she’s hawking Reprieve, an organization that focuses on rights and freedom for prisoners on death row kept to her classics for Spring 2011, opening with a girls-in-boys’-clothes motif that included precise tailoring, perfect blazers and pencil skirts, and oversize oxfords that could have been pinched from a boyfriend’s closet. The futher along the show went, the girlier things got: one pink gingham off-shoulder dress came with a dramatically ruffled neckline on Jacquetta Wheeler, leopard print made an appearance or two, and a raw edged tweed skirt suit channeled classic Chanel but with an edge (naturally). A pretty blush evening dress had Westwood’s well-loved signature blend of structure and drapery, as did a series of corseted jacquard frocks and Wheeler’s blue sequined closer.

Matthew Williamson
After 13 years in the business, Matthew Williamson knows exactly what he’s doing. Sure, he’s faithful at delivering metallic mini-dresses perfect for partying the night away and long, colorful billowy gowns, but for Spring 2011 he also delivered plenty of fabulous separates. "I wanted to express this idea of a Westerngirl's wardrobe,” Williamson explained. "She was ship-wrecked and stranded on a desert island and her clothes have become somewhat sun-bleached and faded." As such, the palette was more muted than usual. A silk blouse in olive green was backed in a shiny gold lame—in other words, army drab but far from drab. There was fringe, fantastic macraméd bustier tops and dresses, super-wide flowy trousers, and plenty of corset-topped dresses that will keep his glamorous partygoing clientele plenty happy. On the billowy gown front, the closing dresses in bright yellow, teal, and cobalt blue were updated with cape-like panels that lent gorgeous movement.

Basso & Brooke
The show notes featured a few words from Madonna: “Everyone probably thinks I’m a raving nymphomaniac, that I have an insatiable sexual appetite, when the truth is I’d rather read a book.” An interesting hook, but it was the bookishness that came through in the collection. The designers, known for their digital prints, used images of hand-written noted by Da Vinci, Tolstoy, Balzac, and Saint-Exupery collaged into prints (less literary were the panels of animal prints interspersed) that made up plenty of full-skirted skater-style dresses. At a time when London’s buzziest designers are taking the digital print world by storm, it was the simpler looks that were the most refreshing: a sheer floral blouse paired with a subtle dot print had all the liveliness of B & B, but without trying so hard.