Vivienne Westwood believes in strength in numbers. Consider how a single spot of light is just a bright smear on a surface, but a ray of light de-multiplied by a disco ball becomes a wondrous, ephemeral galaxy on the walls of the Couvent des Cordeliers where she held the Spring presentation of her Gold Label line. According to her show notes, the main focus of the label this season was to raise awareness about Venice, and how disrepair and global warming were threatening this floating jewel where one of the great cultural booms of Europe emanated.
So she proposed a smorgasbord of corroded Venetian grandeur, in the manner of a ball. As her guests made their way around the runway, there were many of the tropes that Westwood is well known for: the drapes and tucks, deconstructed tailoring. Gender fell into the canal as you couldn't escape the notion that the line-up was drawn from lots just before showtime, rather than a carefully choreographed range. It was punk, but only if the items you thrifted came from gilded brocades and fully embroidered couture gowns, mixed in with the odd Harlequin pattern of stripes or lozenges.
A false sense of affluence permeated these shiny costumes. Fabrics seemed repurposed. Noble or mundane, they were given the same treatment, used with the same gusto. In this manner, the collection highlighted the anonymity that the Carnival brought, mixing the rich and the poor for a few nights of nameless, faceless entertainment. Viewed from the Westwood window, it meant how levelling the world's challenges are, and how equally vulnerable the human species truly is, regardless of distinctions fabricated over millennia by civilizations and societies.