Vivienne Westwood men’s: plays and doesn’t

Update: The runway images have now been added, you can view them by clicking on the thumbnails below.

Given that this is a year in which punk is expected to make a comeback in the mainstream you’d be forgiven for thinking that the woman oft considered the queen of punk, Vivienne Westwood, might indulge in the subject matter. You’d be forgiven, yes, but in actuality you’d be overlooking something: Vivienne Westwood is a woman who simply doesn’t play to expectations. Not the ones most would notice anyway. Her autumn / fall 2011 collection offers up nothing in the way of punk, but it offers up plenty in the way of commerciality. Or, put another way that doesn’t seem like a point of derision: this is a collection, presented today at Milan fashion week, with something for everyone.

And that fact, that every gent could easily incorporate a piece of her next men’s offering within their wardrobes, is one Westwood herself conceded – this is a “collection [that] has plenty of choice”. What then caught a fashionisers eye?

The play on revivalist elements. Scattered throughout Vivienne Westwood‘s autumn / winter 2011 / 2012 collection, particularly amongst its tailored elements, are motifs that hark back to an earlier period of fashion. While you might expect a punk revival from her Westwood feels to have stepped further back, with rounded collars and high waisted, low crotch pants woven through the range (I should note that the tailored elements are not drop crotch per se, sitting a few inches lower than where one might otherwise expect). It feels like a 1930s comeback, as if elements from the world of Jay Gatsby may have joined us in the present. Not so, however. For every rounded collar and high waisted pant is the obvious point that each is an interpretation, almost a play on the concept – the collars slightly too big, even Lagerfeld-esque, the pants too obviously now.

What is clear, from Westwood and a number of other designers I’ve encountered this week and last week at Florence’s Pitti Uomo, is that pleated trousers for the younger man are going to experience something of a revival. As they again come to the fore as a fashionable element of women’s tailoring, so too are they returning for men. And Westwood played to it.

Playing to other elements of the current range of men’s tailoring trends is Westwood’s heavy use of peaked lapels. However, even here there is something not quite a revival about them in so much as she is playing with the concept – as if romanticising what the style looked like in the 1970s and re-imagining it for the present.

The collection’s casual offering is much more diverse. Take the tailored elements, give them a casual bent and an iconic Westwood touch and you’d understand half of it. Some pieces, particular the trousers, are just begging to be worn with an aviator jacket. Others sit far away from what felt like the season’s overall touch: dandyism. Form the models’ lipstick to the 1930s elements, it would appear that the dandy is alive and well.