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.

Fashion Blues.

Brigitte Bardot

Image by r9M via Flickr

Tuesday is food shop day for me and baba. Grandad Mick comes along too, and we go to a nice Sainsburys superstore, do the shop and have lunch in the cafe. Unlike many people, who see the food shop as another chore, I usually really enjoy it for quite a simple reason. For Sainsburys that reason is TU. If the store is Asda the answer is George, and for the occasional trip to Tesco there’s always F&F. Quite simply, supermarkets give you a sneaky chance to pick up a cheap outfit whilst picking up the bread and milk!

But today I had the fashion blues. Sainsburys new range is fantastic – with studded, long-line knitwear that’s both practical (warm), stylish (the studs) and flattering (long enough to cover a big bum!) Tunic style sweaters, feminine tees with lace inserts and fabulous winter coats in rich colours were really enough to make the mouth water long before I had spotted the muffins in the cafe. In addition, there was 25% off all clothing for one week, which meant that the already reasonable prices were even more value. I spotted at least 3 items that I will definitely be buying – a black studded cardi, a china blue tee with lacy bits, and a red and white jersy style dress, but I didn’t buy anything.Why?

The simple answer is the blasted weather. It’s August, I’m looking at Winter coats and it feels so cold I have a view to putting it on when I leave the store. The wind is billowing through my thin cotton top, my feet look stupid in my wedge sandals, and I’ve just seen a women wearing a padded puffa jacket (I know – no excuse for that in any weather, but you see my point.)

The whole beauty of buying clothes for the new season is that you can look forward to wearing them when the weather changes. This is especially true in the Summer. We can buy jumpers, but feel grateful we may not have to wear them for a month, or even two. I’m not quite ready to abandon my summery maxis and wedges yet, but today it felt like they may have seen their day, at least for this Summer.

I never really understand the celebs who want to be so fashion-forward they’re wearing clothes two seasons in advance. It always feels a little bit like opening your Christmas presents in November. It’s nice to enjoy each season while it lasts. But today, looking at the pristine rails of sweaters and cardigans, I felt that maybe this year I might be ‘so next season'(Although the way fashion moves, that’s probably Spring 2011 now).

Returning home I decided to improve my fashion mood with a flick through the new weekly mags. This just annoyed me even more. Apparently, Aussie model Jessica Hart is a new style crush. STYLE CRUSH! PLEASE! She basically looks like some scruffy student from the early 90’s who spends most of the day listening to The Levellers. Think every student fashion cliché. Tie Dye – check, Doc Marten Boots – check, 3 day unwashed scruffy hair – check, khaki parka – check, geek glasses = check. Yet this girl is a new fashion crush. Fashion crushes should surely be aspirational as well as inspirational? We want to wear McQueen couture in our dream world, not sit and knot t-shirts before sticking them in Dylan’s fun colour!

It’s not really Jessica Hart’s fault, she didn’t ask to be described as a fashion crush, and if she wants to dress like see’s seeing the world from a Winnebago then that’s fine by me. But please don’t describe the girl as the new Brigitte Bardot. Bardot looked a dream in gingham, not stretch lycra and converse.

I carried on reading Look and my fashion blues did subside. I fell in love with the Valentino Rose tote, a snip from £1,100. Now thats what I call a fashion crush. Beautiful and perfect, whatever the weather…