Vivienne Westwood SS23 Campaign
Michael Meir-Wright explores the inspiration behind the new campaign images. All images by Juergen Teller
It’s said that in the whole year before last September’s Paris Fashion Week, Andreas Kronthaler had not left London. Instead of immediately travelling as many did following the easing of pandemic restrictions, he instead chose to stay at home, designing and voraciously reading. During that time, one text in particular stood out for him: Katherine Rundell’s Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne. It was the 17th century renaissance poet who understood that “when we get dressed, we ask something of the world”. It’s this sentiment that’s behind the Vivienne Westwood SS23 collection, and it carries through to the recently released campaign – the first since the beloved founder’s passing.
Luminaries such as Irina Shayk, Lars Eidinger and Sybil Buck come together to form an eclectic “renaissance troop,” captured by the lens of acclaimed photographer Juergen Teller. His raw and unvarnished style, accentuated by the stripped back, naturalistic makeup, proves to be the perfect medium to capture Kronthaler’s maximalist creations and the essence of those who embody them. The darkened stage offers a blank setting for the cast, as if – as Shakespeare once wrote – “all the world’s a stage”.
It’s the perfect subtext for the imagery. A study in blurring the lines between the accepted and the extravagant; between maleness and femininity. Nowhere is this better exemplified than with the shot of Amelia Grey straddling gender divides. Here, she adopts a distinctly masculine persona in an outrageously exaggerated yet structured ice white leather ensemble, while sporting a long horseshoe moustache and wearing a pair of championship boxing gloves. But the femininity is never far away thanks to Teller’s subtle applied artistry.
Clashing dichotomies are the foundations to the whole narrative. Male as female (and vice versa), expectation vs inspiration, the past and the present. These are edges that Dame Vivienne loved to tiptoe on throughout her long and celebrated career. And with the new campaign, it’s clear her legacy is in the safest possible. She may no longer be with us, but this is how she’ll live on.
To read our review of the Vivienne Westwood SS23 show at PFW, click here
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