Homo Loquax: Man the Talker

For all those who think we deserve our status as homo sapiens, think again. Last Sunday Vivienne Westwood’s collection took to the runway whilst a banner emblazoned “Homo Loquax” hung behind as a centrepiece for the duration of the show. The message? We have become talkers instead of listeners. Her aim? To reawaken activism. What activism? Consumerism, climate change, and a whole cohort of other global issues… All in the space of one show… No biggie.

Anarchy has always been in her blood. Her romance with the Sex Pistol’s Malcom McLaren offered her an entry into punk fashion, making ‘rubberwear for the office’ a thing and subsequently running the Sex Boutique on the King’s Road. From here on out, sticking to the mainstream was not an option for Westwood. From her first show ‘Pirates’, to the heels that broke Naomi Campbell’s ankle, to meeting the Queen knickerless – she really has done it all. Convention might not be her thing, but Westwood’s aim to implement change in a world suffering from disease and political scandal is evident; not to mention her status as the ultimate green activist. It is undeniable that her clothes carry a powerful message and the AW19 show was no different.                          

   

Her eclectic collection was showcased by models of all ages, shapes and sizes, and accompanied by a multitude of guest appearances. Rose McGowen declared as she marched down the runway: “I am the angel of democracy; I talk for Vivienne”, followed by a model wearing a t-shirt artfully depicting male genitalia exclaiming: “These three dickheads are politicians”. Ouch.

Prosthetics were used to attach a Pinocchio nose to models, who walked as other shouted: “Tax the poor and give to the rich, that’s the lie with the long nose” and the attention to detail did not stop there. Westwood’s manicurist (Marian Newman) used old bits of metal, wrapping paper and bottle labels to decorate the model’s nails, explaining: “it looks like proper bling from afar, but it’s secretly upcycled nail jewellery”. The message is twofold: it confirms just how easy social deception really is whilst promoting the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra that has long been implicit in Westwood’s work.

   

In 2017 Westwood joined forces with the British Fashion Council and the Mayor of London to create the Switch to Green campaign. Her intentions were, and still are, to be ‘a catalyst for global change through collaboration’, and the appearance of members of Green Peace last Sunday confirmed her loyalty to such an endeavour. Suitably, her multi-faceted protest took place whilst a march against fast fashion (from the activist group Extinction Rebellion) brought the streets outside to a grinding halt. The fortuitous concurrence of these events sends the message loud and clear: the realisation has been had and now is the time for action.

It is safe to say there was a lot going on and, as ever, Westwood was not afraid to make her mark on the show. In the finale, she skipped down the runway singing, whilst weaving through the oncoming stream of her entire modelling team; not bad for a 77 year old. She is clearly showing no intention of slowing down and thank god for that. Her unrelenting ambition might just be the thing to pack the punch that is required to finally shut up the ‘homo loquax’; restoring the fashion industry with a wisdom worthy of homo sapiens status.

Words by: Flo Garnett