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Andreas Kronthaler on His Freaky Fall Vivienne Westwood Collection

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Andreas Kronthaler on His Freaky Fall Vivienne Westwood Collection

This season, the Austrian looked to his roots—and pretty much everywhere else

BY WILLIAM BUCKLEY

NEWS  -  MARCH 05

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Photo: firstVIEW

• The freaks don't just come out at night—they also come out in the afternoon for Andreas Kronthaler and Vivienne Westwood. The seats at the Fall 2017 show were filled with the usual editors and influencers, but also outré men and women for whom hair in bright technicolor and fishnet stockings is par for the course. I saw more than one wizardish robe, a bald man with full body tattoos, and more furs and leather than at any show so far this season. Also front row? Pamela Anderson. Because yes, absolutely, of course. I loved it.

• Backstage I got a taste of things to come—one woman with soda cans and lint rollers piled high on her head, paint splattered across floor-length smocks, one woman in a huge oversized Statue of Liberty crown—you know, as you do.

• I read the show notes beforehand, written in first person by Kronthaler. He spoke of this collection as created from a newly formed realization that he sees himself as an Austrian designer. "It was about acknowledging my nationality and giving shape to my identity," read the notes. Interesting, coming from a man who's spent the best part of 30 years working with one of the most British of designers, Vivienne Westwood, who he married in 1992.

• Acknowledged by the Dame as driving the ship for some time but always shirking the limelight, this season marks a full year since he debuted his first solo collection for the brand. I asked him whether he thought Austrian-ism had always been part of his influence on Vivienne Westwood, or if this acknowledgment of his Austrian identity was something that was newly evolving as he creates these collections that, since last year, bear his name.

• I mentioned 30 years in London, with Westwood, and he gave me a light shove. "28!" he insisted and I laughed and shoved him back. "It always was there I suppose," he continued, "but through circumstances and accidents, and I felt drawn to this period and found it very relevant to today and this age—I don't want to become political, it's not my place, but I really love the work Austrians did in this time. They moved around and exchanged ideas which is very similar to today, and that was a very helpful foundation for this century."

• Is the collection still rooted in England then? "Well yes, it's become a part of me, this Englishness. I use a lot of fabrics from there—there's no collection without Harris tweed, for example, but of course, everyone's from somewhere, your roots are from somewhere, and those roots are who you are. I never thought about Austria much, I found it almost boring in a way, but it's actually an extremely rich country, all the thinkers, all the writers and the artists, and there was this very dark time in the history. Many of them had to leave, and many went to the USA for example, so the America we know today was created in part by these people."

• This explained the American references, but there was so much else here—a Victorian/Little House on the Prairie/steam punk dress in light blue acid wash with a ruffled funnel neck; wool coats like giant oversized blazers; a teddy coat in a dressing gown silhouette; quilted oversized satin sweat pans with tassels and a blazer with blue velvet trim; midi skirts that hung in deep festoons; ancient artists' smocks; faded floral prints like classic tapestries torn down and pillaged from some grand house then stitched into clothes by indignant revolutionaries; a black dress with huge puffed shoulders; a pencil skirt with voluminous ruffles at the hem that recalled a costume from Tim Burton's Beetlejuice; and a man in skintight satin pants and a matching satin jacket with exaggerated shoulders holding a chihuahua. "It's a total mixture," he said, and I could see that. "I like it very rich, so nothing is the same as the other thing."

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