Britain has never dressed so badly: Westwood rails against fast fashion


Harriet Walker
Monday 20 February 2012 01:00 GMT

British people have never dressed as badly – this is the damning verdict of Dame Vivienne Westwood.

The third day of London Fashion Week may have showcased some of the strongest home-grown players in the industry, but Dame Vivienne thinks we have much to learn. Showcasing the autumn 2012 collection of her Red Label line at London Fashion Week, the designer said the rise of disposable fashion had made people look too similar.

"In history people dressed much better than we do... If you saw Queen Elizabeth it would be amazing, she came from another planet. She was so attractive in what she was wearing," she said.

Hardly surprising then that her collection took inspiration from more nostalgic forms of dress, from Jermyn Street stripes, Savile Row tailoring, tartan and duchesse satin to headscarves.

But the designer said people were too conformist."People have never looked so ugly... We are so conformist, nobody is thinking. I'm a fashion designer and people think 'what do I know?' but I'm talking about all this disposable crap. So I'm saying buy less, choose well, make it last."

London Fashion Week has a reputation for launching the careers of young stars and JW Anderson's show proved this. Only his third standalone womenswear show, this marked his arrival on the international circuit.

At the other end of the scale, the Topshop Unique show offered a selection of utilitarian pieces in bonded tweed and Prince of Wales check. Boiler suits and workwear-esque dungarees were reinvented in velvet with silk sleeves, pockets and panels at the cuffs. Party dresses got the hardware treatment, with zips functioning as straps.

Fedora-cum-baseball caps, as well as modish spike-heeled boots with brothel-creeper soles, were evidence of the sort of typically British eclecticism and streetwear aesthetic that has built this brand's successful reputation at home and overseas.

If the shows spoke of Britain's international credentials, the front row at Mulberry was a microcosm of that. Singer Lana Del Rey was there, in honour of the fact the luxury luggage label has named a bag from their autumn collection after her. Actor Michelle Williams was there too, as well as Elizabeth Olsen, evidence of the lure of one of the UK's most lucrative names.

Fashion Week continues today with shows from Burberry and Christopher Kane and a presentation from McQ, the subsidiary line from Alexander McQueen, which marks its first London presence in more than a decade.

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