Madame Soho loves Dame Viv, and why wouldn’t we? After all, she represents everything we’re about: freedom of expression, our interest in fashion as a way of creating identity, equality and social justice, and unity and diversity through creativity and the arts.
What’s also impressive is that Westwood’s subversive actions haven’t waned since she began making clothes for Malcolm McLaren’s Kings Road shop, SEX in the 1970s. Ever since, the punk goddess has pushed the boundaries in fashion and has tirelessly campaigned for social and political justice.
So it wasn’t surprising that ahead of her SS16 show entiltled Politicians are Criminals, Dame Viv and her entourage marched a short way up Marylebone High Street to oppose austerity, the deadly practice of fracking, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP.
Dame Viv was more than happy to introduce us to her friends and say a little bit about her protest: ‘I’ve got a new campaign and I’m here today with some of my friends. This is Alice, who I just met on the tube, and some models and some young people that I know. We’ve got this campaign called Politicians are Criminals. We want everyone to know that politicians are criminals, and that they are the problem.’
These provocative words came shortly after the designer rode in a tank to PM David Cameron’s house to protest aginst fracking – a campaign that Madame Soho had the privilege of documenting on the day.
Backstage at the show, the atmosphere was equally subversive. Models wore black make up which was spread over their faces like masks, and kids of all races and ethnicities carried signs with the words, Politicians are Criminals, Climate Revolution, 5% of the World is Uninhabitable, and Fracking is a Crime. The mix of people within the backstage area showed that Viv’s way of doing things is all encompassing, negating the idea that high fashion is for the elite. The paper crowns that the teenagers wore seemed to add to this notion – they symbolized the idea of reclaiming the power from the monarchy and establishment and concentrating it back into the hands of the masses – a reflection of the punk ethos in its purest form.
And her Red Label SS16 collection embodied all the usual Westwood flair. Traditional heritage patterns and shapes were reworked and given her own unique, unconventional spin. Elegant fabrics in deep purples with pinstripes, and dark florals on lighter materials were also presented.
Words by Ray Kinsella Photos by Ki Price