It’s been 38 years since Vivienne Westwood’s catwalk debut in London. That first-ever show took place in Olympia, and was just a kick-start for years of rebellious presentation, giving a firm middle finger to the status quo. All these years later, after a seasonal break from showing her own namesake label in London, Westwood’s middle fingers were up again – standing taller in the air than perhaps ever before. To church at St. John’s Smith Square in Westminster we came today, but instead of a Catholic mass, we were part of a sermon given by Westwood’s army, that urged for change.
The location of the show was quite significant – it was just a stones throw away from the Houses of Parliament where several protests were taking place today. Westwood’s protest was a different kind. Intertwining models walking and major activists holding speeches, the show was all about a sense of urgency. Not tomorrow, not next week – the change needs to come today in order to save our planet. “7 billion people don’t know,” told us actress and activist Rose McGowan, just one of the cast members present to remind us that something needs to happen. And the change starts with us. Shop less, anti-austerity, save the planet… These important messages came one after the other, posing to talk about this Westwood show in the context of how fabulous the clothes on show were (and they very much were) would totally miss the point that the designer was making. “Go in and out the window, as we have done before.” As she skipped down the catwalk during the finale, while singing the old nursery rhyme, Westwood reminded us of something greater than just fabulous fashions. It’s the world we live in.
Photographs by Jason-Lloyd Evans.