Westwood launches elegant assault on the fashion capital

A DISTINCT brand of elegance was brought by Vivienne Westwood to the ready-to-wear collections in Paris.

She chose to show in the Grand Salon Opera of the Grand Hotel. It is a magnificent ornate 19th-century banqueting hall, regularly used by couturiers such as Hubert de Givenchy.

Ms Westwood is launching a sustained assault on the world capital of fashion. Before the end of the year she plans to open a shop in Paris, selling her blazers, pin-stripe suits, camouflage-print denim and platform flip-flops. The designer has a mission: to revive the idea of elegance in an inelegant age. In her view, elegance in the Nineties is a subversive rather than conformist concept.

The receptionists at the Grand Hotel had no doubts about that. The designer's followers gathered early in the lobby. It is unlikely that the hotel had ever entertained quite such an extraordinary gathering of people. 'So this,' a concierge said, eyeing a man who looked as if he had been dragged through a hedge backwards several times, 'so this is English fashion.'

Roxy, a friend of the designer who had travelled to Paris from Edinburgh, was a picture of Scottish convention at 20 paces. But then you noticed that the jacket he wore over his kilt and sporran was a Westwood creation: Harris tweed and denim mixed together.

Backstage, the models were trying on some super-elevated nine-inch court shoes. 'They are the highest Vivienne has ever made,' an assistant said proudly. 'We tried putting studs all over them, but they were so heavy, you couldn't pick up your foot.'

Amber Smith, a busty model from Florida, was scheduled to wear a tiny red bikini. 'It snapped the first time I wore it. Maybe I'll just have to hold it in place,' she said.

Naomi Campbell, supermodel, reassured her: 'Don't worry darling. I know what it's like.' She said she would be wearing a G-string in the Chanel show, which took place yesterday.

Anna Piaggi, the Italian fashion eccentric, floated past in layers of brown, including a brown McDonald's waistcoat, the letter M inscribed in yellow on the breast pocket. A dresser spoke in awe: 'She's just a . . . genius.'

Ms Westwood's show started late, like every good fashion show. For 50 minutes, she produced a cavalcade of ideas: Oxford bags and tight little jackets, pink silk pyjamas, rich Spanish colours and ruffles, full organdie party frocks, silver foil denim jackets, and short drape dresses decorated with giant perspex orchid jewellery. It was vintage Westwood: mad, sometimes bad, sometimes spellbindingly brilliant. The designer had been studying the work of the great Parisian couturiers. She paid tribute to the Fifties with nipped-in jackets over long full skirts, and to classic British tailoring, with double-breasted blazers and Edwardian-cut suits. Cut is the core of the new Westwood philosophy. Afterwards, when she had kissed all the fashion editors and been interviewed by all the Japanese and American TV crews, she said, in her matter-of-fact way: 'There's some very nice cutting in my clothes. Creativity comes from technique, and technique is fundamental to my way of working.'

Here, then, was the reason why Ms Westwood chose the Grand Hotel. The greengrocer's daughter from Derbyshire - the onetime Queen of Punk - wanted to take her cutting techniques to the very centre of the traditional couture world.

She came, they saw, she conquered. Hail Vivienne, Queen of Couture.

(Photographs omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test