Vivienne Westwood and Betsey Johnson – still style mavericks after all these years!

We have just seen the end of London Fashion Week, following hot on the heels of New York fashion week, and it is safe to say that two of the brightest, most interesting Autumn collections come from two style mavericks who first came to our attention in the 1970s. Both Vivienne Westwood and Betsey Johnson are at an age when they could relax and put their feet up, instead, at 69 and 68 years old respectively, they are continuing to push fashion boundaries. Here are some of the highlights of their recent collections.

Alice in Wonderland meets the Royals!

As can be expected of the woman who was at the forefront of the Punk/Fashion movement, Vivienne Westwood doesn’t mince her words. In recent weeks she has insulted Emma Watson, the newly crowned ‘Elle Style Icon’ by saying she didn’t know who the actress was. This week she turned her attentions to Kate Middleton, saying of the royal bride-to-be “..I would have loved to have dressed Kate Middleton but I will have to wait until she kind of catches up a bit somewhere with style…”. Harsh words, but Vivienne is well placed to have that opinion. Almost 70, she is as relevant as ever to British fashion. At the Brit awards, she was the designer of choice for girl of the moment Jessie J, for Ellie Goulding, Katherine Jenkins and Paloma Faith, whilst she designed the actual award. Helena Bonham Carter, a long-time fan, has worn Westwood designs for all awards ceremonies, whilst young starlets like Diana Agron are also part of the Westwood Fan club.

The Westwood Red Label front row was packed with stylish fans including Jaime Winstone, Nicola Roberts and Sarah Harding from Girls Aloud, Dr Who’s Matt Smith and Paloma Faith.

 

Paloma Faith at the red label show

 

The show took place at London’s Royal Courts of Justice, and was a fusion of the Royal Family meets Alice in Wonderland, with Charlie Chaplin style hats, crowns fashioned from the model’s hair, red and blue plaid, flat caps and headscarves reminiscent of Her Majesty at Balmoral.

 

hair fashioned into crowns and royal blue - of course!

Plaids and headscarves.

 

The collection featured lots of layering. There were long argyle socks worn over tights, jumpsuits worn over tops, shirts over t-shirts and coats over everything. The look was very mismatched, but there were flashes of English heritage tradition in the argyle prints, tweeds and wooly socks. Animal prints were also an integral part of the collection.

Some of the pieces were extremely wearable and will translate perfectly to an Autumn wardrobe. The pinstripe trousers worn with the camel jacket looked cosy and stylish, whilst the grey double-breasted coat was a beautiful piece of clothing. I also loved the high collared Chartreuse green/gold coat.

All elements of English Heritage in one outfit - what's not to love?

 

Think Nicola Roberts will be seen in this...

 

 

...although this would look amazing with her red hair.

 

The most successful looks of the collection were the sexy Westwood dresses. These are perfect for Vivienne’s real women like Paloma Faith and Helena Bonham Carter. The dresses had an off the shoulder style that showed acres of cleavage for a look that was sexy dishevellment, a sort of just tumbled out of bed look. The blue dress would be perfect for Jessie J if shortened slightly, whilst the beautiful red dress modelled by Daisy Lowe was a perfect showcase for her curves. I particularly loved the mens style pinstriped blazers draped over the shoulders of the party style dresses – a nod to girls who face the cold to flash the frock.

 

Sexy dishevellment - perfect for Helena

 

 

shortened slightly..this would be oh so Jessie J

 

Overall, the collection was another triumph for Vivienne Westwood, full of texture, colour and humour. I loved it and look forward to seeing it translated by the fashionistas.

 

The Cartwheeling Ms Johnson

Betsey Johnson is an American style eccentric, beloved by fellow fashion mavericks. Remember the anchor print dress that Amy Winehouse wore to marry Blake? That was Betsey Johnson. What about Agyness Deyn in a gorgeous blue strapless prom dress? Betsey again. Kelly Osbourne wore a Betsey pink dress straight off the runway during the S/S after show party last year. This years show had Jessica Hart and Patricia Field on the front row, and also had the employees of Betsey Johnson modelling the ‘Pink Patch’ collection.

 

Jessica Hart at Betsey Johnson

 

 

Betsey Employees take to the Catwalk with trademark Betsey hair.

 

The collection itself was typical Betsey. There were beautiful devore style dresses worn over zebra print bodystockings,  elaborate frock coats with Mozart style ruffles worn over the same zebra bodystockings. Animal print was everywhere – red leopard, traditional cat-prints mixed in a way that should never be attempted by mere mortals, but works in Betsey’s designs.

There is a touch of Eva Peron about the use of red poppy corsages to add details to the shoulders. I love these Spanish touches, which add class to counterbalance the red animal print bodies. I also really loved the fur tippets and muffs used to add vintage elegance to totally modern looks.

The perfect name for this collection would be ‘falling into granny’s wardrobe’, because that is the overall effect of many of the outfits. Pretty teadresses and tippets worn with outrageous tights and DM boots, elegant evening dresses with heavy footwear. It is experimental, like when teenagers attack the wardrobe of their mom, or charity shops in search of their style. The beautiful brocade style cape worn over the red evening dress has the look of a treasured vintage find, whilst the flamenco style maxi dress is a real flashback to 1970s style.

Betsey’s collection shows that there is very much a place for the experimental style gurus in the modern fashion world. She ended the show with her trademark cart-wheel, showing the sense of fun that is always so apparent in her extrordinary designs.

Designer Vintage Bridal Show – Oh! To be a bride…Pt 3.

I was totally enthralled with the exhibitors at the Designer vintage wedding show – the beautiful dresses, exquisite flowers, amazing jewellery and millinery, so I now took a little bit of time to do some people watching. The glamorous brides-to-be had dressed up for the occasion with acres of vintage lace, corsages, glittering beaded headbands and pearls on display. There were 50s style polka dots and prints, 1940s era chintz floral prints, nipped in waistbands, fake fur coats and platform heeled shoes, all worn with the excited glow only a prospective bride can have.

There was the dulcet tones of Frank Sinatra drifting across the main hall. This sound was coming from the Dorothy Lloyd room, which had been transformed into the ‘Speakeasy’. The music was courtesy of ‘Its a wind up’ and the room had been described as a vintage chill out zone. This was also the place to meet real wedding experts, as this was where the wedding bloggers Kat Williams and Annabel Beeforth were residing. I had a quick chat with Annabel first. Annabel is the founder of the super stylish wedding blog ‘Love My Dress’. She started this in 2009, and it is now one of the most influential wedding blogs in the UK, giving stylish vintage inspiration to brides. Annabel, who resembles 1930s Hollywood star Constance Bennett told me she was having a wonderful time at the show. She praised the organisation, and said that she was getting lots of good feedback about the venue and exhibitors. Annabel looked beautiful in a Grace Kelly style strapless vintage wedding dress which reflected the vintage elegance of Love My Dress.

Annabel Beeforth of Love My Dress photo copyright Cat Hepple

Kat Williams’s Rock N’ Roll Bride is the UK’s most popular wedding blog.  The award-winning blog was launched in 2007 with a view to providing inspiration and a little bit of individuality in the wedding world. On meeting Kat I can tell you that SHE is the quintessential Rock N’ Roll bride. Resplendent from the top of her neon pink hair to the tips of her aged DM boots, Kat is every bit the gorgeous punk/rock n’ roll wedding princess. Warm. friendly and approachable, Kat told me that she was really enjoying her day, although people were far too polite to take the retro sweets she was providing on her table. This was probably due to wedding day diets, but as that doesn’t apply to Fashion-Mommy, I was more than happy to eat the pink shrimps! Kat showed me some of the articles that she produces for Photo Pro magazine and Wedding magazine, and also gave me advice about my own blog, which I was very grateful for.

Kat Williams - The original Rock N' Roll bride!

My next port of call was a chat and a quick drink with Bran Cook. Bran is the women behind PR company MOTHERbrown. Bran, who had organised the event with Clare Guest of the Wedding Club and Rachel Simpson of Rachel Simpson shoes,  had been working extremely hard behind the scenes in order to get the exhibitors and events together, and was bustling around on the day in order to check the smooth running of everything…and was enjoying every minute of it. I grabbed Bran to answer a few questions about the event.

Q. How did you put all this together?

Bran: Twitter! Twitter has the ability to form communities of like – minded individuals with the same interests. In this case it was the wedding/bridal community. People like Kat @ Rock N’ Roll Bride and Annabel from Love My Dress. I met vintage photographer Emma Case through Kat. You can just find the right people and exhibitors through the Twitter Community.

Q. Are you enjoying the day?

Bran: This is definitely my thing – the setting is absolutely stunning. I just love being here surrounded by these people! I’ve just tweeted that I’m sitting in a bar next to a football table listening to 78s being played on a gramophone. Its surreal and wonderful.

Q. This is the first Designer Vintage wedding Show, will there be more?

Bran: Definitely. Birmingham needed this, it is the right time. We are looking at the possibility of having it twice yearly, with maybe a second show in December with a mysterious new theme!

Bran Cook

After chats with the amazing photographer Emma Case and Sally Harper of Sharper Millinery(articles on both to follow so stay tuned!), It was time for a fashion show in the Drawing Room. This featured a range of dresses from Jenny Packham brides, Tobi Hannah and Lindsey Fleming amongst others, and also included pretty little flower girls wearing amazing neon pink tutus. I was happy to see the Lindsey Fleming flapper style dress I had so admired earlier being part of the show, especially as the model was clearly in sync with the dress, swinging her long pearls and dancing a mini Charleston.

And with that, it was time for Fashion-Mommy to go home to Baba, with the smell of fresh flowers, the touch of pure silk and the sounds of Glenn Miller still fresh in my mind…

Designer Vintage Bridal Show – Oh! To be a bride…Pt 2.

The most amazing feature of Highbury Hall is the gorgeous staircase. You can just imagine brides floating down it in a sea of silk and lace on their special day. I had these thoughts in my head as I walked up the stairs, pausing dead in my tracks to admire the most fabulous dress I had ever seen. This 1920s style gold sheath is the sort of dress that tempts married women into divorce in order to get married again and WEAR THAT DRESS! “It’s Jenny Packham” I was reliably informed. I thought this would be the perfect dress for Keely Hawes to wear as Lady Agnes when ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ returns.

The Jenny Packham dress!

I reluctantly moved across the landing, leaving my dress behind, and entered the wonderfully named Miss Hilda’s room. This beautiful bedroom, complete with four-poster bed, had been transformed into a vintage bride’s boudoir.  There were rails of beautiful new dresses, courtesy of ‘The wedding club’ and also acres of vintage styles by ‘vintage frocks and crocks’. I was entranced by the beautiful Elie Saab dress that was hanging from the wall, and the amazing vintage gowns were fascinating the brides to be. I heard one bride saying ‘my mom got married in a dress just like that, as she stared at an applique floral lace dress. There was a beautiful silk. long-sleeved bias cut dress reminiscent of Kate Moss’s vintage dress worn to ‘The Golden Age of Couture’ show, the one famously ripped by Courtney Love. The wedding club are co-founders of the Designer Vintage Bridal show, and Clare and Emma were kept busy all afternoon by delighted brides making bookings and trying on their dream gowns.

Elie Saab dress from The wedding Club

‘The wedding club’ shared Miss Hilda’s bedroom with Rachel Simpson shoes. Rachel Simpson, the second set of brains behind the show, creates the most sumptuous wedding shoes to suit every taste, in a range of gorgeous fabrics. I was particularly taken with the coloured shoes in satin fabrics that I thought could look good for any special occasion. The shoes had been expertly displayed on Miss Hilda’s dressing table, just to add that further touch of authenticity to the clothing. My favourite’s were the 1940s style black and white peep toes, these would look amazing with any outfit – just Gorgeous!

Glorious vintage style shoes from Rachel Simpson

 

Taking a trip across the landing to The West Wing, I entered a fairytale room full of exquisite bridal couture. This room was home to Tobi Hannah, a bridal company that specialises in short and tea length bridal dresses especially designed with modern brides in mind.  Tobi Hannah seem to have cornered a niche market in sophisticated cocktail style dress, prom dresses and short sexy ruffled affairs that are just perfect in todays modern wedding settings. I loved the gorgeous dresses that hung from the wall, and on the vintage rails.

 

Short and thoroughly modern, but with a vintage edge – Tobi Hannah brides.

 

Also residing in this room, was, with the obvious exception of the amazing Jenny Packham dress, my favourite design of the day. This was from Lindsey Fleming Couture, an award-winning Scottish company who specialise in Celtic and vintage inspired dresses. The dress I fell in love with was flapper inspired. Imagine Zelda Fitzgerald, the quintessential 1920s ‘it’ girl in her glamorous heyday, and you will see this dress in your imagination. It was designed to have strings of beads hanging from it, and a rinky dinky bobbed haircut accessorising it.  On checking out their website I was delighted to find that their ‘Jazz Age’ inspired dresses were named after 1920s and 1930s icons. I love the Claudette pictured below.  Absolutely stunning!

 

Flapper bride from Lindsey Fleming Couture.

Claudette by Lindsey Fleming Couture.

Fashion-mommy decided that now was a good time for another cup of the fantastic tea…and maybe even another slice of cake. Join me again for part 3, when I meet über bloggers Kat of ‘Rock n Roll Bride’ and Anabell of  ‘Love my dress’.