Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood Spring 2023 Ready-to-Wear

Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood Spring 2023 Ready-to-Wear

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According to a local friend who was at this show, Vivienne Westwood is enjoying a happy phase of contemporary currency here in Paris. “There is always a long line of kids outside the shop on Rue Saint-Honoré. Why now suddenly? I don’t know—maybe TikTok?” That report seemed substantiated by the huge and excited crowds of fresh-faced, phone-wielding youth outside this venue: In fact, there were so many happy lurkers it was impossible to enter without pushing and shoving (which would have been rude). So the only option was to find, thanks to dynamic leadership from the Italian media, a side entrance.

Once we’d oozed in, Andreas Kronthaler was in philosophical form backstage. He reported that until his arrival in Paris a few days ago, he’d not been out of London in more than a year. Instead he had stayed at home and read and designed. The book that hit him hardest was Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne by Katherine Rundell. That text on the great metaphysical poet, who saw lovers’ eyes as hemispheres and clothes as states of mind, helped fire this collection.

The ragged tricolored cardigan of look 16 and the soulful accordion on the soundtrack signaled Kronthaler’s enchantment at this Paris return. More broadly we were on an imaginative trip through various characters shaped through clothing. Sibyl Buck was particularly magnificent in her two broad-shoulder, Renaissance-man looks. There were slatterns and angels, monks and harlots, nobles and commoners. Kronthaler said a recurring joke in the studio is that he always wants every collection to be all black, but color has a way of sneaking in: Here in a small standout section of black looks you could understand his impulse.

The models all wore super-high platforms that even Donne would have struggled to describe. These seemed to lack the heaviness a huge platform needs to ground the wearer, and one model duly fell—but rose to our applause. This was a fun and chaotic show, archetypal of the brand. The only missing element was Westwood, whom her husband said was back in London taking part in a wave of protests against the government. Good on her.

The one off note came after the bows, when Doja Cat’s security guard carried out his apparently urgent mission to escort her backstage. “Excuse me! Excuse me!” he said as he aggressively shoved working attendees—including my local friend—to one side with a level of force to my eyes not especially far from assault. Sorry, but there can be no excuse for that: Que trou de cul, as they say in these parts.

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