Vivienne Westwood Red Label Show and Collaboration with Chivas Regal Unveiled (exclusive with video)
Vivienne Westwood is a busy Dame. Dame Vivienne, that is. The iconic London-based fashion designer is one of the rare few who shows her collections in various cities, including Milan, London and Paris. When Luxist had the opportunity to experience her work up-close on Sunday evening when she unveiled her Red Label Fall/Winter 2011 collection, it was on the third day of London Fashion Week. Earlier that day, her Austrian-born husband, Andreas Kronthaler, Vivienne Westwood's Creative Director, noted, they did a fitting with Helena Bonham Carter for the Academy Awards. A busy day, indeed.
Vivienne West's show was larger than life (see video below). It was presented at the grand Royal Courts of Justice at London's Strand, a gothic cathedral-like setting that was befitting for a designer of Dame Vivienne's stature. The inspiration behind her "Red Label" collection show was Lewis Carroll's "Alice through the looking glass" which evoked a feeling of British society and change. Models wore tartan prints, dresses with mis-matched seams, fantastic oversized hats (designed by Prudence Millinery, some were crowns), over-the-top makeup (including gold-painted faces) and hair styles that seemed to defy gravity. A video of the entire show can be seen on Vivienne Westwood's website.
Bold face names at the show included Jo Wood (ex-wife of Rolling Stones Ronnie Wood), singer Paloma Faith, Boy George, former tenns pro Boris Becker, Duran Duran's Nick Rhodes, and contemporary artist Tracy Emin. All were wowed by the show which was as magnificient a production as the Red Label Collection itself. "I am a big fan of Vivienne's, so I enjoyed the show," Nick Rhodes told Luxist backstage after the show. "She always has a few surprises. She is remarkably good at cutting things. So it has always reminds me of the Japanese, but I think they took it from Vivienne. I thought some of things were really exquisitely beautiful. There was one skirt and blouse toward the end that was quite classical. It was a black skirt with a white blouse that I thought was just exquisite---beautiful."
Former pro tennis player Boris Becker was equally impressed with the collection. "I thought, as always, she was spectacular with the different designs and the makeup--one girl was golden," Becker told Luxist. "Her creativity never stops. The Royal Court of Justice is a unique location with a very long runway. The girls did have to walk a long time, but nobody faulted and everyone did a good job."
The collection was a reflection of Westwood's personal commitment to the environment. According to the program notes, it is about being sustainable by using English wool fabrics and knitwear, otherwise known as "The Campaign for Wool" with a patron being HRH The Prince of Wales himself. The notes indicated that the collection was influenced by Vivienne Westwood's archives as well as the people who live and work in the Portobello Road area of London. According to the notes: "The market stall sellers and vintage collectors, the fruit and veg men with their aprons, the army surplus stalls, the countryside gentry and the kids returning from nights out. The Collection is about London life, and this historical market that draws all classes of our society. It is about Britishness."
After the show, selected friends and guests were taken by caravan (chauffered-driven, that is) to a private dinner at a mansion in Belgravia. The home, which apparently is rented out for private functions, was beyond elegant. Decorated with enormous floral arrangements and lit with blue, pink and purple backlighting, the dinner was sponsored by Chivas Regal, with which Dame Vivienne has entered into a collaboration as a designer for a limited edition Chivas Regal 18 year old ultra premium whisky.
Unveiled at the cocktail reception prior to the seated dinner, was the Vivienne Westwood Chivas Regal 18 bottle. It was cloaked in a Vivienne Westwood-designed three-piece coat with a Union Jack print. Vivienne Westwood Chivas Regal 18 is limited to an edition of 2,500 bottles ($495 each) globally. The collaboration with Vivienne Westwood is the third for Chivas Regal, which has previously worked with both Alexander McQueen and Christian Lacroix.
Luxist had the good fortune of being seated on Andreas Kronthaler's right. On his left, was Dame Vivienne, Kronthaler's wife of nearly 20 years. Luxist learned that while Dame Vivienne may appear to be a rebel of sorts, she is actually a staunch believer in tradition, which explains the enthusiasm she feels for the collaboration with Chivas Regal, which has British roots that date back to the 1830s.
Dame Vivienne talked to Luxist about her fondness for Scotch whisky. "I've been drinking it since I was fourteen years old," the 69 year old with the flame-colored hair stated wryly, as she sipped a crystal glass of Chivas Regal 18 Years Old straight up. "Back then we used to call it 'fire water'."
The designer is also an intellect, and she enthusiastically spoke of her love for Aldous Huxley, George Orwell and Anthony Trolloppe, among other great authors. "Brave New World and 1984 should be required reading," she says.
Dame Vivienne admitted she doesn't keep up with popular culture, as she doesn't watch television, see many films or spend time on the Internet, "other than writing my blog."
One issue, however, that the legendary designer is extremely passionate about is climate change and the environment. "It is the only vital thing we really need to be doing," she told Luxist. "It is important for everyone to start to understand that the climate change crisis is something we all must absolutely do something about."