The Major Leagues: Vivienne Westwood Red Label and Matthew Williamson Spring 2011

Most of the shows in London are super, super cool--Hannah Marshall's Rankin video, anyone?--but not slickly produced. I personally think this is a good thing--I always love intimate shows where the audience gets an up close and personal view of the garments. However, the better-known a designer is, the more pressure there is to put on a grand spectacle. Yesterday, two of London's most well-known designers, Vivienne Westwood and Matthew Williamson, staged major shows. With very different results.
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Most of the shows in London are super, super cool--Hannah Marshall's Rankin video, anyone?--but not slickly produced. I personally think this is a good thing--I always love intimate shows where the audience gets an up close and personal view of the garments. However, the better-known a designer is, the more pressure there is to put on a grand spectacle. Yesterday, two of London's most well-known designers, Vivienne Westwood and Matthew Williamson, staged major shows. With very different results.
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Most of the shows in London are super, super cool--Hannah Marshall's Rankin video, anyone?--but not slickly produced. I personally think this is a good thing--I always love intimate shows where the audience gets an up close and personal view of the garments.

However, the better-known a designer is, the more pressure there is to put on a grand spectacle. Yesterday, two of London's most well-known designers, Vivienne Westwood and Matthew Williamson, staged major shows. With very different results.

Vivienne Westwood is a legend, and with good reason. So many of her dress and suit silhouettes, as well as her shoes, are nearly as classic as a pair of Chanel ballet flats or a YSL Le Smoking. But the difference between Westwood and the aforementioned designers is that they kept evolving, for better or worse. To me, Westwood's look, as evident on today's Red Label catwalk, never really changes. The clothes looked good--I really, really liked many of them--but could I discern this collection from a 2002 or 2005 runway? Maybe not, save for the model's hairstyles.

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Williamson, whose career is still young when compared with Westwood's, also continues to design for a very specific "girl." She's young, tan, and holidays in Ibiza (in a secluded home, of course, as to avoid the chavs). But unlike Westwood, he changes it up a bit each season, keeping in mind what the store buyer really wants. This spring, that included a macrame dress, washed satin blazers, and yes, a few colorful prints on long, flowing frocks. Altogether, it was an intelligent collection. It looked anything but staid, while staying true to Williamson's overall brand and vision.