The grand dame of British fashion, Vivienne Westwood, put fashion on the back burner Sunday and turned her catwalk show into a broadside against climate change, corporate greed and other ills.
Westwood has moved in that direction in recent years, but she went into guerrilla theatre mode for this latest show. It featured angry models stopping in the middle of the catwalk to denounce the planet’s problems, finding time to complain about artificial intelligence, robots, Brexit and a whole lot more.
The first model set the tone by announcing the world would be dead unless something is done this year. The models warned, to a percussive, threatening soundtrack, that humanity would soon go deaf and blind and have squished internal organs.
A free speech advocate wore a slogan-covered jacket, saying it was to honour Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks who in 2012 took asylum in Ecuador’s Embassy in London to avoid extradition.
One model with a microphone proclaimed "Hollywood has made us into zombies." A wittier riposte came from the model who announced, "England is going to die from irony."
The clothes on offer were distinctly androgynous. Many male models were outfitted in dresses or tops and skirts, though others wore beautifully made suits with distinctive draping and a very English look.
Westwood is a fashion icon dating back to the punk era who seemingly can do no wrong with her legions of fans. She was greeted with adoring applause when she emerged at the end of the show and sang that Britain can once again lead the way.