In the fashion world you can always rely on Vivienne Westwood to put on a fabulous show. For Spring Summer 2019 she went big time and nearly big top at Paris Fashion Week. Vivienne and her creative director Andrea Kronthaler held the show in Garage Amelot in the Paris’ Marais neighborhood, the same space where Virgil Abloh held his Off-White S/S19 show just the day before but the Westwood show was packed male bodybuilders in platforms, skateboarders in kitten heels and gender neutral clothing, scooters and even a model wearing a chair as a hat. Inside the space models walked, scooted and skateboarded around a paper art installation in the center of the room.
There were Westwood’s usual platforms, done this time with a tulle accent on the ankles to accent the sky-high sandals or basic black leather ankle boots and male bodybuilders also walked out in platforms, wearing only the shoes and underwear.
The bodybuilders certainly weren’t the first examples of gender-bending from Vivienne Westwood, and Kronthaler also sent out a skateboard in kitten heel mules and a tunic-like dress to show a more subtle, nuanced view of genderless dressing. When opening the designer’s notes and we saw that Andreas’ inspiration for this season came from two primary sources: Jessica Fulford-Dobson’s Skate Girls of Kabul photo portfolio and the catalog from April’s auction at the Ritz Carlton, Paris.
What either of those things had to do with bodybuilders in underwear is still unclear yet we loved it. Some say the casting was nothing more than eye candy for Ms. Westwood’s enjoyment. Once the models started walking, though, the two reference points were obvious. Several models, mostly male but not entirely, came in riding either skateboards or scooters. The cynic in me kept waiting for someone to bite the concrete but no one ever did.
There are several pieces here that are a lot closer to commercial status than we typically expect. Sure, there may be some tweaking here and there, but the long shirt tunics worn by several of the skaters are 100% ready to go and so are the crop top/shorts ensembles. The number of corsets on women was impressive and each of them could easily hit store shelves without a lot of work. The same could be said for a number of sports jackets. There was even a macramé harness with brass tie points that I hear is already sold out. Vivienne Westwood