Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood F/W 2016
Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood F/W 2016

This was a historic day for the Vivienne Westwood label. We’ve known for a few years that Vivienne’s husband, Andreas (who is several years her junior), has been helping out with her collections. We’ve even seen him join her on the catwalk a couple of seasons ago when her cancer treatments left Dame Westwood a bit weak. Now, Dame Westwood recognizes her husband’s role as creative director of what has previously been known at Vivienne Westwood, Gold Label, by putting his name in front of hers: Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood. Digital editors around the world are adjusting their type size to get the full name in the designated amount of space.

Naming the label for Andreas doesn’t signify in major changes in the overall look of the collection, mind you. The pair have been working together for quite some time so today’s presentation was quite similar to previous seasons. There were still men in dresses, recycling was still a major theme, and there was the general casualness in how clothes are styled and put together. In a lot of ways, there was hardly any difference at all.

Where we see a difference is in the extended influences with obvious similarity to priestly garments from both Christian and Buddhist traditions, the use of patterned tights, and the higher-than-usual number of pieces that are wearable right off the runway. Whether these are merely seasonal adjustments or an expansion of the aesthetic is something we’ll have to wait until September to find out.

So, where do we begin attempting to describe a collection where every piece is so very different from the ones before and after? In the case of today’s presentation, I think we can divide the collection into dominant elements. Taking the lead would have to be an incredible sense of draping shown in several of the pieces. Twice Andreas practically mimics the massive drapings worn by Buddhist monks, but more frequently he pares that look down  for use in dresses and even some coats and it is there that his creative talent really shines through.

Printed leggings are another big thing for this collection, and Andreas does something brilliant with an oversized sweater that exactly matches the pattern on the tights. This is a totally different dynamic than what we’ve seen with printed tights and bodysuits elsewhere and is one that is immediately relatable and salable. The label may have difficulty keeping this one in stock.

Then, let’s talk outwear, coats and capes that are excessively large, beautiful, and surprisingly practical. They come in brocades and knits and one very puffy gold lamé coat that almost looks as though one is suiting up for a spacewalk. This is where those on a strict budget are going to have to make hard choices because there are multiple pieces here that are wardrobe worthy.

As for the oddities, which is in part why one watches a Westwood show in the first place. What is probably most noticeable is that they’ve stolen the pope’s big hat and turned it sideways. Twice. There have been multiple times over the years when I’ve thought one of those hats would be a handy addition and now Andreas has not only made that possible, but fashionable. Westwood fans are just irreverent enough to make that hat a best seller. We might also mention the number of times when Andreas cuts off the left leg of a pair of trousers. Why he chose the left leg I don’t know. It’s a different look for sure, but we would be disappointed if there wasn’t something different about this collection. Oh yeah, there’s a blue mask toward the front, but we’ve seen those before so we’re not terribly surprised.

Changing the name of the label doesn’t change the fact this is a classic Vivienne Westwood collection. While Andreas may be taking over the design duties, he has his wife’s aesthetic down pat and is continuing it in glorious tradition. This should guarantee that Vivienne Westwood, the label, will be with us for a very long time, and that makes us very happy.

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