Westwood tells austerity UK to buy fewer, better clothes

LONDON Mon Feb 20, 2012 6:22am EST

Designer Vivienne Westwood (L) walks on the catwalk with her models after the presentation of her Vivienne Westwood Red Label 2012 Autumn/Winter collection during London Fashion Week February 19, 2012. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

Designer Vivienne Westwood (L) walks on the catwalk with her models after the presentation of her Vivienne Westwood Red Label 2012 Autumn/Winter collection during London Fashion Week February 19, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett

LONDON (Reuters) - Fashion lovers should take advantage of today's cash-strapped times and use their limited resources to buy fewer, better clothes, Britain's grande dame of design Vivienne Westwood said after wowing London Fashion Week's Autumn/Winter show on Sunday.

"People have never looked so ugly as they do today. We just consume far too much ... I'm talking about all this disposable crap," said Westwood, whose tailored collection inspired by tribal prints was one of the highlights of the event.

"What I'm saying is buy less - choose well. Don't just suck up stuff so everybody looks like clones," she told reporters, when asked how austerity had influenced her work.

"Don't just eat McDonald's, get something a bit better. Eat a salad. That's what fashion is. It's something that is a bit better."

Models strode down Westwood's long looping catwalk adorned with tribal tattoos and baggy jodhpur-like trousers.

Westwood, who came to fame during Britain's Punk revolution in the 1970s, said her clothes had been inspired by Britons' ability to confront harsh economic times with imagination and devil-may-care daring.

"Britishness is just a way of putting things together and a certain don't care attitude about clothes. You don't care, you just do it and it looks great. What we do always looks British even if we're inspired by Africa or the North Pole or whatever."

The "war mentality" of the past year had influenced her use of bright oranges, military camouflage greens and yellows, she added.

Celebrities including Duran Duran's Nick Rhodes, British chef Heston Blumenthal and American television personality Janice Dickinson looked on.

"I can't live without her clothes. I've been shopping at Vivienne Westwood and wearing her at Vogue from 30 years ago until this day," said Dickinson, who has appeared on many Vogue magazine covers.

Lustrous metallic colours also featured strongly this season, not only in Westwood's collection but also at motorcycle-inspired Belstaff, which had a strong womenswear line.

One of the most striking jackets featured a shiny purple material made up of more than 10 different silken fibres, a mixture CEO Harry Slatkin called a "secret sauce".

The collection also featured tightly tailored leather jackets with armour type panelling.

Slatkin said savvy buyers knew how to make their money go further by buying good quality clothing that would last.

"The customer relates to that. There's no fooling the customer and there never is," he said.

Throughout the week, designers said there would always be a market for haute couture, even though some luxury buyers had trimmed back purchases.

Vogue's Anna Wintour quickly nipped backstage and emerged pleased by the results.

"I loved it," she told Reuters. "I always love being in London."

(Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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