Vivienne Westwood—the veteran punk of the high fashion world—has always forged her own path. A long-time advocate for sustainability, Westwood’s collections come complete with a document outlining the lengths her design team goes to to ethically produce each collection. For Spring/Summer 2022 that included using 98% cruelty-free materials and banning virgin synthetic fabrics. But her sustainable philosophy runs deeper than that. Bristling against the fashion industry’s feverish obsession with ‘newness’, Westwood regularly mines her own archives, updating key looks from the past for new seasons, to encourage the relevance of vintage fashion and promote the circular economy.
For SS22—which Westwood unveiled in a short film and digital lookbook this afternoon—that meant revisiting her spring summer 98 collection, which showed in Paris in September 1997. Westwood tapped Georgia May Jagger and Lily McMenamy—both the offspring of supermodels who walked for Westwood in the 80s and 90s—to model the new collection, which paid homage to SS97’s maritime theme with its campy use of giant shark’s heads and shipping wheels. As for the clothes themselves? They were quintessential Westwood: corset-style shirting, draped evening dresses, tartan suiting, and cartoonish sculptural shoes.
It’s a genius move from a designer who is still beloved for her signature 80s and 90s silhouettes. Bella Hadid’s endorsement of the 90s-era hand-painted ‘Rococo’ corsets spawned a new generation of Westwood obsessives (a recent iteration was auctioned off for £18,000—almost $25,000), as did recent nods from Kim Kardashian, FKA Twigs, and Dua Lipa. Hailey Bieber opted for a Vivienne Westwood reception dress when she married Justin Bieber in 2019. Why not capitalise on the brand’s vintage chops with an archive-inspired collection? Of course, in the hands of a less capable designer plunging the archives of the 90s could be a risk. But that’s the thing about Vivienne Westwood: she felt like the future when she dressed the Sex Pistols in the 70s, and she still feels like the future now.