Wednesday, June 26, 2013

BEAUTY: Clothing--Vivienne Westwood

The Westwood collection is always the highlight of Milano Moda Uomo and for her Spring-Summer '14 show, Vivienne Westwood and husband Andreas Kronthaler blended political concerns and statements with the kind of imagination and cut that Westwood is known for.

In the past, Westwood has taken up the cause of Leonard Peltier, and is currently quite passionate about climate change, as we all should be. But for this collection, she focused her attention on United States soldier Bradley Manning, the WikiLeaks leaker. In solidarity, models sported Army berets. His image showed up on tees with the word "TRUTH" while other models simply wore images of Manning pinned to their outfits.

In the mix for this collection was inspiration from India in the form of paisleys and an enlarged madras plaid. Westwood wrote about India in a voluminous press release placed on each chair before the show in which she cited concerns for the poor in India and the exploitation they suffer. It seemed though that India was simply the springboard for other Asian and exotic influences such as a tee shirt with a woven Tibetan tiger rug (with jeweled eyes!), Chinese tassels in the form of jewelry, Turkish drop-crotch salvar pants, and North African geometric designs on suits, shirts, and pants. There was even a sort of Lawrence of Arabia vibe in some of the last looks. And thankfully, she managed to sneak in a reference to the kind of historic English clothing she is known for in the form of a Pirate vest.

I think it is possible that Westwood makes the best shoes on a runway today. Oh, be still my heart... a Westwood flip-flop? Yes please!
We also see some lace-ups with the iconic snake pattern (I have a pair of Westwood Pirate boots in the snake pattern and they are one of my prized possessions), and some great loafers, one with Dame Westwood's political graffiti.
And check out Kronthaler's traditional Punjabi shoe from India, with a pointed and curled toe.

See the entire show (and enjoy the great soundtrack with music by the dream-pop duo Savoir Adore)!

I am posting her entire press release:

"I wanted a soft, more feminine feel to the clothes, more ease to the fit. Andreas and the team took their inspiration from India. And of course the first great impression is the Indian Rajas with their heavy-lidded almond eyes and their perfumed beards, their turbans and covered in a wealth of jewels- no human creatures have ever been so wealthy. But we passed on because I don't have direct experience of India. I have only my romantic impressions and our inspiration comes from museums and photographs: Hindu gods and dancing and colour and flowers and spices and tigers and the jungle and the Gangees, temples and sari's worn by the most elegant women, beauty and grace - and the Indian children I have met in England are lively and intelligent- a huge population, the caste system. Nothing changed after the British left in 1950. The new rulers exploited the country and its people like the old colonials. We knew we had to have colour, but we began with whites - white that shines in the sun and white that looks dusty - cream and black with texture and pattern and mixed with indigo. Then checks and prints, then some colour and colour degrade. I think the overall colour effect belongs in the light of the sun. Does sunshine disguise poverty to the English outsider? A few motifs from Persia or Morocco crept in. There is a feeling of being in an oriental garden. In a recent essay, Noam Chomsky summed up what's happening in the world: the rich are racing as fast as they can to destroy the world, the poor are fighting to stop them. India is the most extreme example of this. The government is selling the country's mineral rights to corporations and consortiums. When the land is ruined, the people have nowhere to go. Maoist organization fights the evictions and when people have nowhere to go they are considered Maoists, many do join the Maoists in the forests: young people, victims of atrocity, girls and boys join them. The police steal everything they can, rape, burn; they are paid to kill. The government is increasing the police force. They are purposely creating war. Why? Because they want the people off the land. Why? Because most of the minerals the government is selling are still in the ground. The Boghghat Dam will submerge the entire area that we have been walking in for days. All that forest, that history, those stories. More than a hundred villages. Is that the plan then? To drown people like rats, so that the integrated steel plant in Lohandiguda and the bauxite mine and aluminium refinery in the Keshkal Ghats can have the river? Who will stop the Indravati (river) from being stolen? Someone must. 'Why is Bradley Manning featured in a collection about India?' (no turbans, but military berets) Well, I always highjack my collections to talk politics and Bradley is there because everything is connected. The depredation in India is caused by the global political financial war machine. Bradley stood in the path of this great juggernaut. He told the TRUTH by exposing war crimes and documents which revealed that the purpose of our wars is perpetual war for the purpose of total plunder."

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