Two words you probably never thought would go together, but somehow legendary designer Vivienne Westwood has done it.
Known for her kooky, eccentric and sometimes controversial fashion style, the designer dressed models in everything from sleeping bags to whitened hair to emulate the homeless look.
The idea of using clothes worn by people who can barely afford to survive is ludicrous, however the audience of fashion darlings seemed pleased with the collection and applauded loudly after the last cardboard boxes left the stage.
Apparently the idea was inspired by Westwood’s Austrian husband who has been involved with a homeless charity. It is a clever marketing idea, and despite the questionable themes the clothes were accessible, bold and wearable.
The idea to dress the models to look like they slept rough was aimed at sending the message to people to buy less clothes and to treasure each item in your wardrobe and give it a good shelf life before splashing out on something new.
I am sure most of us are guilty of owning the same black dress in slightly different cuts, or five pairs of jeans in varying shades of denim. Most wardrobes are stacked with clothes but as a nation we keep on buying – next time you’re looking for a new outfit it might be worth rooting through your old clothes and with the help of a few embellishments you can create a new item from something old.
Using homelessness to illustrate this is not be the most sensitive thing the designer could have done and buying a dress for £500 is hardly helping the issue. Maybe Westwood could donate a percentage of the profits to a homeless charity, like Shelter, and actually make a difference to the thousands of people sleeping rough throughout the UK.
Westwood’s collection, for Milan Fashion Week, declared: “Perhaps the oddest of heroes to emerge this season, Vivienne Westwood found inspiration in the roving vagrant whose daily get-up is a battle gear for the harsh weather conditions . . . Quilted bombers and snug hoodies also work well in keeping the vagrant warm.”
Most of Westwood’s clothes are priced way above high street standards so most people could only buy a few key items from the designer in their life time. The vagrant was not the only style “hero” to emerge with this collection. One model posed with an orange boiler suit – a Guantanamo-esque-look? and another wore a jumper as a pair of trousers – a reflection on Westwood’s message about recycling?
She said: “I’m saying to people as well, buy less clothes. Only buy things when you really need them and really like them. Wear them and wear them.”
In a grand finale to this collection of fantastic clothes and contentious ethics, Westwood was wheeled out on a paramedic’s stretcher to rapturous audience applause…fashion gone mad? or just a very effective publicity stunt?