Vivienne Westwood by Andreas Kronthaler is a breath of fresh air in a sea of simplicity, retaining a narrative which leans on a DIY aesthetic, but is anything but thrifted. The ability to straddle pulling from that world while retaining luxury status is surely part of the reason that many a Gen Zer has fallen in love with the brand. That, and the history of its rebellious foundations, and the late great Dame Vivienne Westwood’s continued campaigning for a better world, tackling the twin issues of climate change and over-consumption. Westwood is a brand for rule-breaking warriors, albeit fashion ones.
As one of the original maximalist brands – well before it became a thing, thanks in large part to Alessandro Michele’s tenure at Gucci – Kronthaler manages to make the mis-matched (seams, fabrics, textures) meld, working it into his collections of wearable designs, which still stay true to its signature design ideals.
In today’s collection the inspiration came directly from its founder, as Westwood’s personal wardrobe was used as the source. With different elements added, subtracted, or amended by Kronthaler, but always retaining the essence of how she liked to dress, according to the show notes, that was “Always the opposite of everybody else”.
Extolling the ways in which the designer never wished to waste anything, and herself wore a corduroy suit for over 20 years (taking to mending as her bedtime ritual), Kronthaler’s summer 2024 also exuded a make-do-and-mend sensibility, as garments, accessories, and trims that seemed to originate from a dressing up box or found suitcase in an attic, melded together ideas from preppy maxi polo dresses, glam-rock jumpsuits, bohemian bridal, and 1980s working girl. While the original Westwood girl’s volume sleeves, corseted décolletage, and skewed hems were also mashed-up for the season.
This collection travelled through time and terrain, movements and machinations, all inspired by Westwoods relationship with time, choosing to use her mind to travel. For today’s show it was a case of pick-your-player as his tribe of well-dressed misfits encouraged all to jump on board, as there is something for everyone in this eclectic and hedonistic way of dressing, which goes beyond seasons and time constraints.
THE BUZZWORDS DIY (Do It Yourself). Make waste into most wanted. Choose your tribe.
Look # 37 Exuding the energy of original Westwood, this corseted look paired back with harlequin pants represents how the next generation wear the brand, high and low, mixed and matched, casual and formal. Clothing made to be worn should always reflect a personality and connect the past, present, and future.
THE ON-BRAND FACTOR
THE BRAND EVOLUTION
Never wavering from Westwood’s design principles Kronthaler continues to build anew on that legacy and cater to the brand’s tribe of independent thinkers.
Individual, yet cohesive, how to build a wardrobe with the idea of blending the old with the new, mending and matching, and fostering a relationship with clothing bought with an anti-waste stance.
[I] loved the way she dressed. Always the opposite of everyone else. [She] wore things until they fell apart. A great mender [she] never wasted anything. She understood how to make the most of herself. I owe her so much”
Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood
THE WRAP UP
Mining the personal and brand archives to revisit and rework what will be inherently familiar styles to Westwood’s loyal fans, Kronthaler not only utilised them in a way that felt new and purposeful, but in doing so he is also giving his customers the chance to own a piece of the brands history once again, albeit in a new guise. Whether it be a Frida Cape in linen from the ‘Everything is Connected’ summer 2014 collection or dialling it back 20 years for a Shantung silk ‘Baccarat Dress’ from fall 2003. Outside of archival or estate sales – or resale – fans old and new will be waiting with great enthusiasm for summer 2024 as they pour over what piece of Westwood history they will now have the chance to own.