Written In Stone
Two giants of Renaissance art, Donatello and El Greco, were the source of inspiration for the Dame of Punk this season. It was that fluid element in Donatello’s sculpture (the undulations of which seem to defy their rigid structures) that intrigued Westwood, and a fascination with fabric and its weighty movements were central to this collection; the clothes here didn’t necessarily bend to the forms of the body, rather they made their own intriguing protrusions and folds. That could mean, on the quieter end of the spectrum, a pronounced or particularly padded shoulder on a tailored jacket that extended several inches beyond the body beneath, or, more dramatically, vast, boxy sleeves that rendered the arms invisible and dresses painstakingly cut so as to fall in shadowy creases and undulations.
A Rebel for the Ages
As for the influence of El Greco, the notes claimed “rich colour” choices were encouraged by his paintings (shimmering reds, yellows and pinks turned up), and although colour was of utmost primacy to the artist, you may well wish there was more substance to this reference than a simple question of palate: the distinct whiff of waffle is never far from the Fashion Week printout. However, El Greco’s proto-Cubist and Expressionist leanings which were met with bemusement in his own time must, undeniably, chime with Westwood’s eternal appreciation for the rebel and the outsider – touchpoints that were, of course, present and correct here in tailoring with gangster swagger and Punky, Franken-tartan pieces.
‘Intellectuals Unite’ was the lofty title of this season, and although we know the political holds centrality of place in the Dame’s personal life and work, it can be hard to decipher where the rallying call to “fight against the politicians destroying the environment” could be heard or seen in this particular collection. Still, as long as Westwood continues to refuse to play by the rules in her own fun-loving way (see the delightfully unfashionable tweed skirt suit with fuchsia pink blouse beneath), we don’t mind treating her right-on declarations with the respect they (and she) deserve.