WORDS Hannah Sargeant
Vivienne Westwood and husband Andreas Kronthaler have returned to Milan with a SS17 menswear collection that promotes gender fluidity within modern day fashion design. The idea of unisex clothing is no new feat - in fact Westwood has been a leading pioneer in designing and producing clothing wearable by all sexes since the 80’s - yet as the most recent LC:M has shown, it’s an idea that many big names in fashion design are only now beginning to explore.
With this in mind, SS17 might very well mark a new epoch in menswear, defined by articles of clothing put together without the typical genetic make-up of male orientated design. Male models walked the Milan catwalk in skirts, crop-tops and plenty of dresses, mixed with waistcoats and baggy, one-size-fits-all shorts and trousers. There wasn’t a shortage of bare flesh on show either, despite the label’s well-known talent at layering multiple items made from various textures and gathering excessive fabrics.
This season wasn’t just an open walk between crossing gender boundaries. Alongside it was Westwood’s most emphasised message of SS17: the freeing of journalist and WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. Beginning the show with a pre-filmed message directly addressed to David Cameron, Dame Vivienne introduces herself: “Dear Prime Minister Cameron. I am Vivienne Westwood. I am a fashion designer and and activist, and I am a friend of Julian Assange.” Prompting Assange’s release after his fifth year confined within the Ecuadorian Embassy, she implored “he needs some sun!”
Identifying just as much as an activist as she does a fashion designer, Westwood is famous for her linking of politics and fashion - a characteristic which was set in stone right from her earliest involvement in bringing modern punk into the limelight. With previous collections highlighting the issues of fracking and climate change, SS17 was aptly showcased alongside the remixed track of The Stooges ‘No Fun’, as jumpers emblazoned with ‘IOU’, ‘FREE ASSANGE’ and t-shirts printed with Assange’s pet ‘embassy cat’ defined this anti-convention collection.