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.

Paris Couture Week – Valentino, Gaultier and Elie Saab

Paris fashion week was full of beautiful outfits, catwalk surprises and star appearances, and the shows of Valentino, Elie Saab and Gaultier had all three. From the buttermilk shades on display at Valentino, to the mixture of Punk 76 and Moulin Rouge Gay Paris 90s at Gaultier, the shows had colour, drama and, with the male model bride that closed the Gaultier show, the ability to shock.

As expected, the front rows were filled with stylish fashionistas sporting a sea of black outfits. Dita Von Teese made appearances at both the Jean Paul Gaultier and Elie Saab shows, wearing her trademark Black Dahlia look. Catherine Deneuve was also front row at Gaultier, showing that real style is endless and ageless, whilst Alexa Chung and Caroline Sieber were perfectly colour coordinated on the Valentino front row,

Valentino – Soft and floaty

This was a beautiful collection from Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccoli. It featured soft and ethereal designs in buttermilk, nude and caramel shades that seemed as light as air. There were delicate frills, lots of lacy Elizabethan style high neck ruffs, and lots of scalloping for edges and frills that gave the impression of waves on costumes.

There were romantic ruffles and pretty butterflies and flowers added onto dresses like applique, and there was a lot of sheer fabrics used in this collection.  The overall impression was of pale and interesting, although there were some striking splashes of colour, including the beautiful red dress that I would love to see Kirsten Dunst wear. I thought that this collection was beautiful, but eminently wearable. Think stars like Natalie Portman, Thandi Newton and even Tilda Swinton,whose bone structure would look amazing in the rose-coloured scalloped frock coat.


Jean Paul Gaultier – revisiting can-can and Punk in One show.

Who else but Jean Paul Gaultier, the original enfant terrible of French fashion, would use the influences of Moulin Rouge era Paris and London 1976 punk in the same show? There were fish nets stockings, humbug striped can can dresses and Mohicans on display, as Gaultier showed his schizophrenic side. Hot model Lindsey Wixson bought to mind a young Angela Lansbury starring in ‘The portrait of  Dorian Grey’ with her doll-like features and stripy gay 90s tight hobble style dress. This era was also evoked by the rich colours, the multitude of feathers and the cartwheeling catwalk show. I particularly loved the bright orange frock coat style orange dress.


Lindsey Wixson


But this was also a collection heavily influenced by the birth of Punk in London in the Summer of 1976. Models were sporting Mohicans and brightly coloured zoot suits, whilst designs had names like ‘The Clash’. There was also some bondage style outfits like those sold by Vivienne Westwood in ‘SEX’, these reminded me of Madonna’s blonde ambition outfits from 1990.

Gaultier ensured his show would gain extra column inches when he used supermodel Andrej Pejic as the bride in his catwalk show. Andrej is a tale, beautiful blonde who also happens to be a man. I feel that this was a controversial gimmick that a show as visually exciting as this didn’t need, and that the attention it has received has been at the detriment of the clothes. Still, you can never accuse Gaultier of taking the safe option!

Elie Saab – Simply stunning!

The first thing I want to say is – Expect to see lots of these gowns on the upcoming red carpets. This was a collection that just screamed grown up sophistication. A range of beautiful gowns that went from chic little cocktail hour dresses to those that fully deserved the title full length and fabulous, there was a real feeling of couture about this collection.

There was a good mixture of romantic dresses in soft peaches/golds and whites, but also more dramatic looks in blacks and reds. My favourite shade was the stunning periwinkle blue dresses. There were VaVa Voom designs that would suit Jessica Rabbit, or her alter ego Dita Von Teese, but this is also the collection I would love to see Kate Middleton wear, albeit with some modifications.

As you would expect from an Elie Saab collection, many of the dresses are exquisitely beaded. There are sheer panels, but with beading that spares the blushes and stops the dresses from moving into more risqué territory. Elie Saab is the undisputed master of red carpet dressing, and this collection confirms this.


I would love to see Kate Middleton in this dress!