Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood AW23 – Paris Fashion Week
Meg Parrott look back at an important show for the British House at PFW
As Paris Fashion Week continued full throttle, Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood AW23 brought a welcome moment of reflection. Kronthaler’s first show with Westwood came in 2016, and this was the first without the revered designer’s presence by his side, after her sad passing in December last year.
In tribute, the collection delivered all the grandeur to be expected of the House – along with the non-conformity, rebellion and mutiny we relish – and distilled it all down to a refreshing eclectic tonic. Passing the torch onto her successor, Kronthaler’s soliloquy mourned his late darling by delving into her history.
Against the Hôtel de Marine’s Rococo ballroom, Tintwistle (named after Westwood’s Cheshire birthplace) was an extraordinary 69-look proposition. Classical music disrupted by AC/DC’s 1975 ballad T.N.T. welcomed a new army of rebels with staging just as transgressive as its costumes. Exaggerated proportions, lyrical shapes and muted and vibrant colours underwrote the narrative.
Revolutionaries marched in a melange of familiar design signatures – print over pattern, skimpy under swathes of fabric, masterful draping and harmonious contrasts. Tartan came mini-skirted, jacketed and enveloping, immortalising Westwood’s affinity for modernising tradition. The corset – ever scandalous, ever Vivienne – morphed into wrapped peekaboo gowns and sensual Little Black Dresses. Freedom flowed from floor-length knits worn with golden thigh-high boots, or harem trousers under loose layers that echoed the seminal 1981 Pirate collection.
Sometimes embroidered bowed ‘A+V’ hearts tenderly saluted the star of the show. At other times, camped up lederhosen celebrated both Kronthaler’s Austrian heritage and his desire to subvert, while monogrammed drawstrings and logo sportswear began to usher in the House’s new era. The ‘absolute favourites’ of his late wife – skirts, petticoats and the infamous Masturbation silhouette – were lovingly revived in archival fabrics. “They’re so woman,” said Kronthaler in the show notes. And, of course, he was right.
“The most important thing you ever taught me,” he continued, “was to put the woman on a pedestal”. As Westwood’s granddaughter Cora Corré closed the show in a typically subversive bridal outfit, you were left with the undeniable feeling that Vivienne Westwood AW23 does exactly that.
To read our review of the Balmain show from PFW, click here
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