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Review: Vivienne Westwood, Paris

The show is running fashionably late but they can take as long as they wish. I am enjoying every second. You’d be forgiven for thinking what's the fuss about watching an empty room filling up (on a scale of watching paint dry, it can’t be much more thrilling) but this is no ordinary room and the people arriving are no ordinary people. I’ve rarely been in such an exquisite venue, Le Grand Hotel Intercontinental Paris, which is every bit as grand as the name suggests. The room is so magnificent that, frankly, you would want to watch paint dry on its wall. The people are all super stylish but bar a few exceptions, they are not as mad as what you get in London. I was warned that Paris would be different, classier, and it is.

I am beyond words with excitement. I feel truly privileged to have been invited and part of the small circle of people who would experience first hand the spectacle that is about to unravel, Vivienne Westwood Gold Label. For what I was about to witness would be theatre, not a fashion show.

It’s Friday 7.10pm, 30th September and it is abnormally hot in Paris. 29 degrees, still sunny, the sky is blue no clouds and though we are in doors, you can feel the heat from outside. But it’s not uncomfortable. Just right. It said 6.30 pm on the invite. More seats are empty than filled but as I said, I could spend the night here waiting and I wouldn’t mind.

The difference between the Red Label and the Gold is noticeable. Red, in London, was staged at Smithfield’s market. The show had the vibe that only London can produce. Coupled with ‘famous’ people that are A listers (like Pam Anderson – there were others but I can’t remember) to lift up the streets to chic by virtue of those types getting out of bed and tracking to east London, it is not chic Parisian style. Paris is luxurious – I guess proper chic (what you’d call ‘well classy’ the further east in London you go).  Some people I recognise from London, others I only see in Paris during Fashion Week but most I don’t recognise. They must be fashion’s hard hitters.

I miss Jerry. He’s the resident DJ at the shows. A piano has replaced his decks – a beautiful grand black shiny piece of master craftsmanship. The sixteen year old Kyle Nash-Baker will be performing his own composition. Wow.

The piano is in the middle. There is no runway. We are seated in a circle. The models will be going round. I wonder how much time has gone into putting up the structure to turn the hotel room into a fashion extravaganza space. It’s not just the actual physical work, it’s all the permissions – this is probably a listed building.

The room is now full. Only a matter of minutes, seconds, lights go down, hush, lights go up again, music, here we go, the dream begins – and it’s over so quickly. The doyenne of fashion walks out to take a bow and so does Mister Westwood (who didn’t appear at the end of the London show, though he was backstage). They pose in front of photographers. The audience is ecstatic. We’ll all walk out elated.

SS12 Gold label was inspired by 3 main influences: China, the desert and 17th century corsets, all thoughtfully blended in.

SS12 Red label – where thoughtful takes an even more literal meaning as Ms Westwood introduced Cool Earth, a charity aiming to save the Rainforest: www.coolearth.org

Photos courtesy of Westwood
With my special thanks to Brigitte Strepputtis.

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