Milan Fashion Week: Vivienne Westwood medals in Olympic enthusiasm [Updated]
In anticipation of the London 2012 Summer Olympics, the always topical Vivienne Westwood chose the "gentleman sportsman" as inspiration for her spring and summer 2012 collection -- one that will no doubt be hitting retail just as the appetite for all things Olympic reach fever pitch.
Westwood referenced many of the obvious symbols of the worldwide athletic competition -- some T-shirts bore foil-print images of the Olympic torch, others were screen-printed to look like the wearer was displaying multiple medals (à la Mark Spitz’s famous photograph). The laurel crown was also a recurring motif, appearing as a foil print, a knit pattern and as a wreath meticulously crafted from old maps. Westwood wisely avoided the most instantly recognizable symbol of the Games -- the five interlocked rings -- which are trademarked. Instead, she used four solid circles in black, blue, red and yellow down the arm of one sweater.
One piece had an allover print of London 2012 Olympic symbols and slogans, strappy sandals recalled the ancient Greek competitors, and one model carried a satchel that looked like it had been loosely woven out of soccer-goal netting (variations of which were also part of the Dolce & Gabbana runway collection the previous day). Assorted knit pieces referenced specific nations -- including the U.S., Mexico and Japan. But Westwood made it clear in her show notes that she wasn’t just thinking of on-field attire; she aimed to provide pieces that would be appropriate for the formal ceremonies too.
That meant sharp-looking three-piece pinstripe suits, iridescent sharkskin and a handful of bow ties (including a pair of formal slippers topped with a pink bow tie).
But what Westwood really deserves a medal for this season didn’t appear on the runway at all -- it was in the last paragraph of her show notes:
“After many years, Andreas has agreed to acknowledge his true position as my partner in design. It is important to both of us that his public image should match the reality. He heads up the MAN team and I’m very glad to share with him our creative work in fashion.”
The Andreas she’s referring to? Her husband, Andreas Kronthaler, whom she married in 1992. And no, in case you were curious, he's not related to the Andreas Kronthaler who won a silver medal for Austria in the men’s air-rifle competition at the 1984 Olympics in L.A.*
-- Adam Tschorn, reporting from Milan
*[Updated 6/23/11: In an earlier version of this post we mused whether or not it was the same Andreas Kronthaler -- or someone related to him. We have since received confirmation that they are not related.]
Photos: Looks from the Vivienne Westwood spring / summer 2012 collection shown during Milan Fashion Week. Credit: Tullio M. Puglia / Getty Images