Vivienne Westwood Red Collection
Vivienne Westwood Red Collection A/W 2015. Photo credit: Kim Weston Arnold / Indigitalimages.com

There we were, rolling along through the day, each show starting just a tad later than the one before it, but not nearly as bad as New York habitually is. Then, Westwood happened. I’m not even going to try and guess what caused the delay. Chances are pretty high it wasn’t any one thing. But 20 minutes became thirty, thirty become forty and people who had been sitting too long began getting restless. Fifty minutes late and even the faithful were beginning to grumble. Finally, 57 minutes late, the show started and while everyone breathed a sigh of relief the rest of the day was now condemned to following similar suit, having to wait for editors and buyers attending the previous show to make it to theirs while trying to reduce just how late they started their own shows. Jonathan Saunders had it back down to 35 minutes, which was no small fete.

Fortunately, everyone loves Dame Westwood so all was quickly forgiven. What matters, after all, is the clothes, and hers were the eclectic mix of mismatched fabrics and dramatic flair that everyone expects from both the Red and her eponymous line. In fact, it has become increasingly difficult in recent seasons to find much difference between the two.

Ms. Westwood eased us into the crazy this season, starting the show with a surprisingly plain tan dress under a very beautiful gray coat with black trim. What is this, Burberry? The second look gave just a hint of what we’ll assume was a striped dress under an impressive grey wrap coat. The stripes appear as a knit top under a crushed velvet suit, then, oh look, there are tiger stripes and some kind of urban camo design! Yeah, this is definitely Westwood.

From there, it was shorts pulled up strangely (almost uncomfortably) on the side, mismatched patterns, contrasting plaids, head-to-toe vertical stripes, and exaggerated masculine tailoring. What caught everyone’s attention? The over-the-knee socks, which I’m guessing will make great gifts come the holiday season. Then, as the collection veered into evening gown territory, the looks went back to something rather pedestrian, if not just a thrift shop in appearance. Eclectic and random, just the way Westwood fans like.

Oh, but the strangeness wasn’t over. We’re accustomed, given Dame Westwood’s age and health, for her to make the finale walk on the arm of one of her models; it’s a sweet moment that demonstrates the love and respect she has from everyone around her. But to those watching, it seemed as though the designer was shoved from behind stage and onto the catwalk, where she wobbled a bit, was distracted by someone on the front row, and then tottered unsteadily down the runway with the models following slowly, cautiously, behind. Fortunately, a couple of the young women took her arms for the trip back. Running late or not, no one likes to see a lady mistreated and, regardless of whether that’s what actually happened, that’s how it appeared.

Vivienne Westwood is a British national treasure and this collection was just as vibrant and exciting as any that have come before. Perhaps Dame Westwood needs some better assistance backstage, though, because the execution today was far from her best.

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