Nine months after Vivienne Westwood’s death, her husband Andreas Kronthaler was inspired by the designer’s personal wardrobe for his spring/summer 2024 collection. Below, see five key takeaways from British Vogue fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen.
The collection was based on Vivienne Westwood’s own wardrobe
Since Dame Vivienne Westwood’s death in December 2022, Andreas Kronthaler – her partner in life and creativity – has channelled his grief through the passion for dressmaking he shared with his wife. Vivienne Westwood the dresser and Vivienne Westwood the designer were often one and the same. She was her brand’s best and most beautiful poster girl. In the second collection since her passing, Kronthaler paid tribute to that symbiosis in a collection based on her personal wardrobe. “When I archived Vivienne’s private wardrobe in April and May, which I did on my own, I thought, this is going to be the next collection,” he said before the show.
Andreas Kronthaler drew the looks from a hat
During the archival process of Dame Vivienne’s wardrobe, Kronthaler had numbered each look. He put those numbers in hat and drew them at random, allowing fate to decide which would make it into the collection in reproduced form. “I picked 34, because that’s the number of years I knew her. And these looks are the collection,” he said, admitting he’d added another five because Dame Vivienne kept several versions of the same garments and some were too good to choose from. “When I picked these numbers from the hat, the first number I picked was this sturdy English corduroy suit she wore for twenty years, nearly every day, on her bicycle.” A new interpretation of it opened the show. Dame Vivienne’s granddaughter Cora Corré closed it in a white moiré bustier dress.
Each garment was tweaked and contemporised
After picking the looks, Kronthaler began his creative process. “I tried them on again and changed them around and manipulated them to what I think she would have liked and done,” he explained, noting that it wouldn’t be in Dame Vivienne’s spirit to simply replicate the garments. “There were things she liked and she kept doing them, and when you do that, you always change something. Because times change and you go up and down. She always loved the bondage trousers, for instance, but now they’re a bit more high-waisted and less fussy. They used to be really low. Things like that she would change. But she stuck to them because she liked them.”
They were street clothes
It’s testament to the timeless power of Vivienne Westwood’s personal style that Kronthaler’s premise never felt retrospective or nostalgic. Instead, these clothes were cool, from the ease of the masculine tailoring and throw-on day dresses to the more sculpted suiting silhouettes and structured dresses. Kronthaler’s inimitable couture hand was evident in the touches of ballroom that infused the more dramatic volumes, but things never burst into eveningwear or pronounced glamour. “These are the clothes I think we should wear in the street, really. It’s quite street,” as he said. Was there anything in there that Dame Vivienne wouldn’t have worn? “I added some miniskirts. She didn’t wear miniskirts for a long time. But she loved them.”
Dame Vivienne kept and repaired all her clothes
The repurposing of ideas that carved out the collection’s premise was entirely in the spirit of Dame Vivienne, who couldn’t stand disposability. The reason her personal wardrobe was so well-maintained was her devotion to breathing new life into old clothes. “You have no idea the way she mended, and what she mended!” he said. “She mended things that were impossible to mend. She had such a good hand. She was always on the bicycle, and she always wore my boxer shorts, and of course on the bicycle the crotch wears out. And she mended those boxer shorts until they fell into powder. It was unbelievable. I kept a few!”
This article was originally published on British Vogue.