In lieu of a runway show at London Fashion Week Men’s this season, queen of anarchy Dame Vivienne Westwood - who has dedicated her entire career to positive activism - presented her Autumn Winter ‘18 collection through an unruly political fashion film, directed by Jason Last. The digital format is a refreshing move, one that feeds directly into our current generation’s modus operandi and offers a more raw and accessible point of view on fashion.
“You all know what I’m up to, I use fashion as a vehicle for activism to stop climate change and mass extinction of life on earth”
Opening up a discourse surrounding ethics, politics and an overarching theme of war, the film is less a conventional campaign and more of a snapshot of Vivienne Westwood’s outspoken messages. The short takes viewers behind the scenes at the collection’s photoshoot and alongside models marching through the streets of London with drums and flags, offering authentic insights straight from the mouths of generation next.
But Vivienne Westwood’s declaration of war is not of destruction; it’s a fight against bigotry, geopolitical tensions, climate change and unsustainability. Westwood’s agenda is to spark positive change, proactive solidarity and unity. The film could not have come at a more suitable time, with worldwide political and social uncertainty; from Tory, to Trump, to a post-Brexit era, to the rise of female empowerment in a post-Weinstein world, to American anti-gun law debates and beyond.
Fittingly titled ‘Don’t Get Killed’, the video is accompanied by a lookbook of the unisex AW’18 collection, shot by Maria Ziegelboek. Boasting Westwood’s signature outlandish essence and punk rock rebellion, it features lots of military details and colours, rigid tailoring and a mix of feminine and masculine qualities. An iconic carryover style, reimagined every winter collection, is a Westwood favourite; the unisex Princess coat. This season it resurfaces in Harris Tweed with giant checks and olive camouflage hues.
Army green runs abundantly throughout the collection, as does blood red, with many pieces fashioned from Melton. Traditionally a fabric used for army uniforms leaving raw edges, it’s the perfect finish for a hardy, war-themed collection, along with sustainable Hemp, which is also widely explored. Suiting, Saville row shirts and dresses are presented in camo, tartan prints and colourful stripes, continuing the army theme with a folkloric twist. Westwood further explores Mountbatten Pink, a colour introduced by Lord Mountbatten in World II, which comes off grey but changes to mauve with the atmosphere of dawn and dusk.
Ringing true to her message of unity and inclusion, the collection is encouraged to be worn by anyone. The film also not only stars models such as Moffy, but a variety of creatives and real-life activists including artists Joe Sweeney, Harry Freegard and Emma Breschi, political dominatrix Reba Maybury, her photographer sister Jess Maybury, and DJ Josh Quinton amongst others.
Adding yet another layer, Vivienne Westwood has created a set of playing cards, using her archive of graphics and mottos as inspiration. Releasing one card a week on social media and through climaterevolution.co.uk, the full pack of cards amounts to a complete message and reveals a strategy to save the world. In the video, the cards are printed as large prayer flags, which ripple as emblems in the background. Westwood herself explains “collect the cards, connect the cards, then it brings peace”. For the designer it’s a physical plan of action; an instructional map of strategies spanning climate change, war, and how we can ultimately do better as a planet.
Later this year a feature-length documentary titled ‘Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist’ by Lorna Tucker, is also set for release, and will compete in the World Documentary Cinema Competition at Sundance Film Festival.
Watch Vivienne Westwood's ‘Don’t Get Killed’ AW’18 fashion film below.