I’m still waiting until Paris fashion week, (and specifically Gareth Pugh’s first menswear collection!) to give you the Boulevardier’s take on all the commotion, but one designer I must discuss early is (obviously) Vivienne Westwood. Now, I’ve been hesitant to bring up Viv before in this column, mostly because I have a rather conflicted attitude toward her on an anarchist level and her designs on an aesthetic level, as well, but this collection is really a treat and I think you will agree.
I find these designs so amazing because she has truly made me reconsider my former disdain for work clothes. I can recall (albeit vaguely) lambasting the very notion of work clothes at various parties and salons to small crowds of horrified onlookers, often atop a chair or counter… but it turns out that I was utterly mistaken. Sorry. Here is the perfect blueprint for what a radical mansy should wear when tending to the community garden on your La-La-Land project, fixing a roof on your dilapidated punk house, building a seditious greenhouse or just generally building more lofts to cram more anarchists into your Casa del Squalor. The point is that even though these clothes are functional, and allow for and promote maximum efficiency in the work place, they are exuberant, joyous and confrontational -everything we are looking for in menswear. And to top it all off, the collection is titled Do It Yourself, and for me, dear reader, that seals the deal.
DO IT, DO IT, DO IT! Come on mansies, let’s see these work clothes in action!
As well she has a few real gems when it comes to formalwear; I am constantly seeking out potential ways to move the suit in a more radical direction, without looking idiotic, and a few of her pieces really hit the mark. I especially like the branch on the shoulder, this is something I will undoubtably be wearing in the upcoming weeks.
Now I will warn you, that a lot of the pieces in this collection are so hideous that I shudder just thinking about them, but that’s the magic of Viv I suppose, she sort of occupies this space between disaster and miracle, and I think that goes for her politics as well. On the one hand, she is definitely the most outspoken and radical major fashion designer out there, her support of Leonard Peltier is wonderful and she has these little moments of brilliance in her interviews and whatnot that are very thought provoking. For example, she has said about her latest collection, and the clothes she made for the punks in the 70′s, that she was shocked that anyone would buy them, ”Why don’t people tear their own clothes if that’s what they want? Why buy a torn T-shirt from me?”‘ And seriously. She has a point! Just look at the above clothes! Can anyone say FREE BOUTIQUE? Who would pay her absurd prices? It’s really a small miracle that she is so wealthy, but I suppose that lies in her genius for fashion.
And there’s the issue of anarchism, which she has sort of renounced and sort of celebrated. Basically her politics are a mess, and it would just be nice for someone who has given anarchists fashion inspiration for the last 40 years to kind of own it. I mean when are we going to have our own Granny Anarchy! That said, I also like the fact she is all over the board and is willing to say ‘fuck you’ to the entire world including the anarchist community. And even more than that, I happen to love anarchist-friendlies. Let’s face it, a lot of conventional anarchists are bores, and we don’t want everyone to think the same in Anarchia, we just need more people that are not hostile to anarchy, why not Dame Westwood!