Westwood looks pretty in punk

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VIVIENNE WESTWOOD, the grande dame of British fashion, who showed her collection in Paris yesterday, was clearly influenced by none other than herself, as she sent her own mini retrospective down the cat walk.

Harlequins appeared alongside Highland kilts, and saucy nip-at-the-waist suits were followed by overblown ball gowns, all plucked straight out of the Westwood archive. She eventhrew in a bit of punk via the models' hair-does which were part Sid Vicious, part Dynasty.

But Westwood's show was a muddle. Despite the fact that she is not prone to the whims of fashion and that she sticks to her signature style as if her life depended on it, the collection offered very little that was modern, desirable even. There were the odd exceptions. Skinny Fair Isle cardigans and dresses that sparkled; her world-famous bosom-boosting corsets, this time trimmed with metallic studs, and some deftly cut velvet jackets that criss-crossed the bust. But why did she replace her usually clever accessories with ugly, bulbous jewellery? And why send a model out for the finale wearing goggles with windscreen wipers attached to them and clutching what looked like a ventriloquist's dummy? Perhaps Westwood can be forgiven her excesses, she is a British institution after all.

Meanwhile, that great French institution, Chanel, presided over by the German-born designer Karl Lagerfeld, showed earlier in the day.

In stark contrast to Westwood, Lagerfeld sent out a stream of desirable clothes that his loyal customers, along with Chanel's new disciples, will love and no doubt keep as family heirlooms. He faced the millennial issue head on with metallic leather skirts, outsized silver-chain belts and knife-sharp seaming details. But Lagerfeld also has his finger firmly on the pulse of the moment: shearling, leather, suede and fine tweeds were given the all-importantChanel spin, in body-sculpted or easy fluid shapes. This season, he succeeded in pushing the label forward, while retaining a sense of the great Chanel history.