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Runway Realway: Vivienne Westwood

By Savannah Dawson

Dame Vivienne Westwood’s Fall 2021 Ready-to-Wear Collection released earlier this year, and it is just as rebellious as her previous collections. From the clothing to the models, Westwood continues to show the fashion community she is always going to be a barrier-breaking designer. Traditional autumn plaid trend is here to stay; in this collection, Westwood layers her plaid with varying colors, stripes, and chunky sweaters. The mixed patterns and bright colors in this collection vary from Renaissance art print to watercolor-esque painted fabric. Although most of this collection is similar to what Westwood normally produces —  filled with angst and changing the direction of the fashion industry — there is also an element of current trends that sneaks into certain looks, such as the monochrome blazer, two-piece matching suit sets, and high-waisted dress pants. Her choice of models vary in age, gender identity, race, shape, and look —  a huge step for the fashion industry’s ever-stagnant problem with ageism and body image.

One of Westwood’s well-known jewelry designs became a TikTok trend this summer and went viral. Her Mini Bas Relief Choker was a statement piece in the spring and summer 2021 trends, but unfortunately, as her jewelry is couture, most are not able to afford the real thing. Many small Etsy shops started making their own versions of her necklaces, and Amazon sellers are marketing plastic versions of what Westwood calls “The Orb”, made from sustainably sourced faux pearls and her trademark Saturn ring pendant. This brings about various complications with Westwood’s beliefs, as she is adamant on the idea that fast fashion is the biggest polluting industry.

Westwood has always been known to be a voice of activism in the world of fashion. At a mere 80 years old, Westwood paved the way for the environmental movement in fashion and continues to raise awareness for human rights. Westwood’s first storefront opened in 1971 in London. She began her clothing line with her partner, Malcolm McLaren, and used their platform to bring more important topics into the limelight. She recently opened up to GQ Magazine about the destruction that the fashion industry causes. In her interview, she says, “The high street is the problem. All that mass production is just about cheap labour and death. Couture is the only sustainable fashion.” In April 2021, Westwood received the “Good Energy Award”, which recognized her for her work toward a more environmentally friendly fashion industry. It is safe to say that this “True Punk” era is not only the peak of Westwood’s design career, but also the beginning of all the truly amazing work she is putting forward to create a better world.

Posted in SEAMS