London, Feb 20: Quirky orange-haired designer Vivienne Westwood returned to the catwalk Sunday, taking her customary turn on center stage at London Fashion Week.
A hardy veteran of the punk scene who has seen dozens of trends come and go in her storied career, Westwood drew on classic British tailoring and traditions for the show of her Red Label collection, which traditionally looks to her own archives for inspiration and ideas.
It was a playful and picturesque show. Westwood called it a British collection, citing Savile Row tailors and the shirtmakers of Jermyn Street, but - being Westwood - the show also drew some of its buzz from the body paint and temporary tattoos put on the models in the frantic few hours before the show.
Most had something written, or some symbols, on their necks, chest or arms, adding flair and some mystery.
The designer called it African body painting but did not explain why it was mixed in with outfits that featured traditional long Edwardian jackets trimmed with velvet and shapely coats made of checked wool.
The skirt and top ensembles had an intentional mix and match look, seeking harmony where others might find clashing patterns, but the beautiful belted dresses carried the day with simple lines and elegant silhouettes. One of the most striking was a purple dress set off by dark blue dangling earrings.
Westwood seemed triumphant as she walked onstage with her models at the conclusion of the show.
The designer usually uses her London shows to trumpet a political cause, and Sunday's show was no exception. She said the show was in support of an environmental group trying to raise awareness about climate refugees forced from their homes by the changes wrought by global warming.
She offered showgoers a chance to buy custom-made tee shirts made from a low carbon supply chain with an anti-climate change message emblazoned on the front for just 20 pounds ($32), but it is likely most buyers had their eyes on one of much pricier sexy, slouchy dresses instead.