Basso & Brooke
2010 September 20
Runway Reviews: Matthew Williamson, Vivienne Westwood Red Label
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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.
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.