This marvellous 1993 Mario Testino photograph of Christy Turlington, dressed head to toe in Vivienne Westwood, is so evocative, beautiful and brilliant. The stripey feather in the soft, shapely cap; the stick she holds at another angle; the mad jazz of the plaids, her titian hair clashing perfectly with the scarf’s pink, the red jacket and her orange lips. and the soft, moss green Farrow and Ball wall behind her, bringing out her eye colour perfectly. This picture moves and inspires me, beyond measure.
Of course the most traditional of British fabrics – malleable, flexible wools and Scottish tartans in modern colourways – mixed together make the outfit outstanding. But for me it is the shapes that really excite. These wools enable Westwood to drape and mould the shapes. A jacket with peplum and pleats, secret pockets, closely fitted almost like a blouse around the diaphragm and waist. It’s fancy, but you can imagine any one of these component parts utterly appropriate with a pair of jeans, with a baggy jumper, or wellies.
I have started thinking seriously about a skirt or two, and some trousers, a jacket, a coat, maybe a cape. An evening dress. All in a co-ordinated set of tartans and stripes. Maybe complemented by a hand painted blouse or two. In terms of shapes I have had some success in copying a Westwood jacket. And more recently my draped skirt experiments have led me in a Westwood direction.
Westwood creates her own tartans – I would use more easily available populist options, with a theme of red, white, navy and bottle green, perhaps. These fabrics are always in fashion and you only need to walk from Primark to the Oxfam shop to find there is always lots of availability. I think I could make these four tartans, for example, work together introducing a further colour to provide an element of surprise. Maybe yellow. Or pink.
Stripes, checks and coordinating plain colours could work well too. The recycled suit, and some plain bright fabrics I have in my cupboard may be an alternative approach. I have always loved the Kaffe Fassett quilting fabrics and maybe they could feature in a subtle (?) way – a little blouse or skirt. This challenge would be very interesting in terms of matching pattern fabric – which is quite a challenge in itself.
Sticking with the tartans, and by way of illustration I have an initial plan
Pod 1; Navy tartan skirt, white draped blouse, green tartan jacket
Pod 2; Red tartan trousers, white tartan coat or cape, dark green blouse
Combo; navy blouse, hand painted silk top using navy, red, green, white and pink
Wildcards: Bright pink coat, green velvet skirt, white evening dress
Many commentators on my first SWAP post have said “Do Westwood, but with the sweet pea colours” – unfortunately my summer fabrics are not ideal for the kind of Westwood shapes I have in mind. Although she, of course, does do summer collections, I do love using nice wool – cutting it with decent shears, sewing it, seeing the stitches sink in with a little steam, making the fabric shrink, or stretch or bend – as required. If I go with Westwood I will have to have to buy fabric. Although I was determined to do a summer collection this year, and I still think I will, I find myself very, very tempted by this opportunity.