The first show after the death of Vivienne Westwood last December attracted a big crowd outside of Hotel de la Marine in Paris.
In a recently restored gilded room with chandeliers, Andreas Kronthaler sent out a collection that stayed true to his wife’s punk spirit.
Jean Paul Gaultier, who often credited Westwood as an influence, sat in the front row alongside Jared Leto, Julia Fox, Halsey, and Lena Mahfouf.
“When I started to make fashion, I was going to London in the ’70s a lot. There was so much inspiration because of the street, which was always like speaking with the clothes, and there was the shop of Vivienne Westwood, SEX. She was part of the punk movement. For me, she is very unique and punk fashion influenced me. I truly love her and admire her,” Gaultier said.
The show opened with Westwood’s face printed on a top alongside a heart motif with her initials inside. The look was completed with a wool skirt, leggings with motifs of historical paintings, and a pair of ghillie heels like the ones responsible for Naomi Campbell’s memorable runway tumble in 1993.
Farida Khelfa and Westwood’s longtime muse Sarah Stockbridge walked the show alongside Irina Shayk and Candice Swanepoel in an array of big dresses and tailored jackets in jewel tones and tartans.
Kronthaler himself closed the show, wearing a kilt and a blue cape. He followed a model wearing a lace bridal corset and holding a bouquet of white daffodils. Backstage, Anna Cleveland caught the bouquet when it was thrown across the room. The excited model then shared a kiss with her fiancé Jefferson Hack in front of everyone.
Working on the collection was a way to ease the grief, an emotional Kronthaler said backstage.
“For me, the most important thing was to just continue. I knew I had to get through it. In a situation like this, one can do a lot but I think it’s best to keep the usual thing going and see how life develops. Not making funny decisions. Work is good. Work helps. But sometimes a handkerchief or something [remind me of her]. It’s grief. It’s part of life,” he said.
The designer, who has taken over the creative lead at the brand since 2016, said he searched for inspiration from the memories he shared with Westwood, who he wedded in 1992.
“When I was very young, she was describing me once this ‘Buffalo’ collection, [one of Westwood’s first collections shown in Paris in 1982,] which is this noble savage coming down from the north, taking over Paris with what people wore in London. It really stuck with me, and I tried to show this quite naturally,” he recalled.
To wit, Kronthaler mixed East and West London, a bit of baroque glam with a dash of punk attitude. From the Buffalo aesthetic came petticoat skirts, big-shoulder tartan jackets, and platform pumps – with antique fabrics that the couple collected over the years.
“I just thought I could take them out and give them a new life,” he added.