LFW SS14: Vivienne Westwood Red Label Show Review – Lily and the Red Shoes

Your home is your refuge, the place you feel safe

Vivienne’s idea for the show was to find a way to promote awareness from climate refugees. She gives a quote in the show notes ‘Anyone who gets home late from work and finds she’s forgotten the key. What a disaster! My home is my refuge.’ It is a poignant thought, I like most people have found myself locked out on numerous occasions and it does strike a fear into you, a feeling of disparagement, being lost, a situation you cannot control. Even more so if you have ever been burgled, that feeling of your home being violated, spoiled, no longer safe. Keys can be found, even broken windows and stolen possessions replaced however than feeling of loss will always remain. It is unimaginable how it must feel to not only loose your own house but the place where you live too, the neighborhood you have always known, that feeling of belonging.

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Lily and the Red Shoes

She danced, and was obliged to go on dancing through the dark night. The shoes bore her away over thorns and stumps till she was all torn and bleeding; she danced away over the heath to a lonely little house. Here, she knew, lived the executioner; and she tapped with her finger at the window and said: “Come out, come out! I cannot come in, for I must dance” The Red Shoes, Hans Christian Anderson

Vivienne and Andreas chose to collaborate with close friend Lily Cole who produced and performed an interpretive dance to open the show. The dance was an expression of The Red Shoes by Hans Christian Anderson, the message ‘The dance of death must end’. People world over are left without homes due to climate change disasters, us, the models in the show, we all have our homes to go to tonight, we should help those who do not.

The models faces were painted to look like animals caught in the headlights, trapped in a hostile environment with no means of escape. Stark white faces covered with ash and blood, nails broken from scrabbling to flee, hair wild flowing out behind them. I was reminded of polar bears and badgers, both animals being driven out of their homes by the greed of man. You can see Lily’s dance in the middle of this video:

The Concept and the Collection

For those of you who don’t know the Red Label collection is a diffusion line of the main Gold Label collection which is shown in Paris. The line isn’t directly designed by Vivienne but uses her established techniques to create a more wearable, mainstream range. When you see Red label hanging in stores you see tartan suits, pretty dresses and smart blouses, the effects on the runway are mostly down to clever, trademark Westwood styling. This wasn’t all straight-laced clothes however metaphors with Vivienne’s message were there to be seen. The Gold Label collection I was first reminded of was the S/S 200 ‘Summertime’ collection. An important collection and something of a turning point for Westwood, this collection saw the introduction of the Animal toe shoes, it was an English rose garden of fresh, romantic florals and a handful of tiny, very realistic little insects. A prominent piece were the snail’s used on dresses and in jewellery, metal cast around real snail shells. In this S/S14 Red Label collection the snails returned on necklaces and bracelets, whilst luscious, green florals were there giving abstract prints. Oversized flower corsages were used to add a sense of drama, they represented the giant tropical flowers of the rain forest, flowers of the world brought together. Animals, insects, flowers and people all part of the same world. The snail carries his home on his back, without it he is vulnerable, naked, at risk. Protective chain-mail was draped around models in a trench coat and trousers – paired with a t-shirt and shorts and office shirt and blazer respectively, we need to feel protected in every environment.

It was a small collection 22 looks, the usual is around 50, with this seasons A/W13 only totaling 30. After the somewhat schizophrenic S/S13 collection and the change to Peron from MEG producing the Accessories label shoes there has been some debate as to where the label is heading. This collection though stripped back did have classic elements of Westwood design which she is revered for, the beautiful drape fronted suit (look 3) and the elastic trimmed top (look 13) wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Gold Label collection. The floral printed, sequin drape dresses were beautiful and should sell well. The neon orange heart printed pieces looked out of place overly trend conscious ideas carried over from last S/S. The real stand out feature of the show were the abstract flower corsages in richly coloured satin, embellishing the waist of a black dress, the lapel of a blazer and shoulder of a gown. I really do hope we will see this element realised for retail and that it wasn’t just dressed for the show. Other commercial pieces were the squiggle print satchels and wrap bracelets, squiggle has been a license to print money since it was first used, I just hope it is kept to a minimum there can be too much of a good thing. I still have mixed feelings about the Peron shoes, I really was impressed to see the famous ‘Carrie Bradshaw’ multi-strapped sandals again and the little ragged patchwork ankle boots were fantastic. I can take or leave the basic flat leather sandals and flat pointed pumps, they didn’t signify anything special about Westwood to me. All in all it was a collection which has me very much looking foward to seeing the pieces produced for retail next year, clashing blue pinstripe with florals and little pixie boots with huge corsages is very Westwood indeed.

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Lily’s footsteps…

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One thought on “LFW SS14: Vivienne Westwood Red Label Show Review – Lily and the Red Shoes

  1. dear pearl, you completely summed up my feelings towards this collection. as for me i saw some really nice VW pieces and others were just boring, uninspiring, nothing with a twist or which caught me. even the squiggle satchel looks quite ordinary, well behaved, nothing to compare to your clompers etc. it is quite a trap and easy to get carried away with the styling and make-up whereas the clothes on a hanger look soooo different. it really is a show, but i still like it 😉 thanks for your great reports, enjoyed them!

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