When I think of Vivienne Westwood - the person - the first incarnation that comes to mind isn’t the veteran punk-queen designer nor the politicized eco-warrior with campaigns close to my own heart. Instead, I think of the famed exit she made from the premiere of the film Sex and the City. Although citations are proving hard to find, the general consensus is that she couldn’t watch more than 10 minutes and found the clothes frumpy and boring. I can just hear her soft Derbyshire tones uttering this, with clicks of contempt.
This is the jacket I’ll be attempting to make, in plaid, for my part in the Vivienne Westwood Challenge.
For ages now, I’ve admired its diagonal lines, the turn back cuffs and the potential in the matching of two contrasting inner and outer fabrics. That balance of tailoring-meets-rock n’ roll is pretty rare in sewing patterns, I think. But, having got hold of the technical drawing, I find the design simple and boxy and it’s hard to believe it’s the same jacket. Not so much the soldier-turned-highwayman look of Adam Ant that I’d set my sights on. More over-starched waiter in a dull restaurant.
When I look closely at this Vivienne Westwood design, three key features that make it different from the Burda pattern stand out:
1 There are waist darts all the way to bust point. Ok, so this jacket is designed for a woman. I get it.
2. There’s a waist seam that drops down diagonally towards the side seams (another dart control?). This seam sits a good inch higher than where most of us assume our waist to be (an inch above the belly button). As before, this flatters the female shape to the max.
3. Finally, the asymmetrical collar, notched on one side and extended on the other. Why did it have to be this way? It reminds me of one of those naturally asymmetrical, sexy hairstyles that have a lot of movement. It’s a good trick that brings the design to life.
What do you think are my chances of upgrading a $6 Burda pattern into clever couture? I’ve got enough frumpy already. Can you help out with links to interesting plaid/tartan suppliers that can lift this out of the ordinary?
I’ll leave you with a couple of links to blog posts where some clever analysing and copying of Vivienne Westwood design has taken place. Here’s a clear tutorial from Orchids in May on making one of those asymmetrical and gloriously voluminous draped skirts. I wish I had a half-scale model to practise this on, with the pinstripe leftovers in the stash.
The other post is from blogger Catherine Daze: the striped jersey dress. Although not as dramatic as the VW original, the end result, like the skirt by Orchids in May, is accomplished, unordinary and wearable.