Heels & Picks: Westwood brings punk couture to Oahu
BY ERIN SMITH / Special to the Star-Advertiser
I love a designer with a punk edge. Alexander McQueen? Adore his work. Smaller designers like Black Milk Clothing and Poprageous? Count me in.
But there’s only one grand dame when it comes to high-end fashion with a punk edge, and that woman is British designer Vivienne Westwood. And as of 2013, she has a showroom right here in Honolulu.
Honing her skills in London in the 1970’s, Westwood’s earliest designs were for a store called “SEX,” owned by renowned manager of pivotal punk band the Sex Pistols, Malcolm McLaren. Over the years, her punk-inspired designs have gone couture and she has taken the fashion world by storm with her unique edge. At last year’s Met Gala in New York City, widely considered one of fashion’s biggest nights, Westwood was honored for her punk-inspired contributions to the trade.
Never one to shy away from speaking her mind, Westwood is as widely known for her forthright opinions as she is for her clothing.
In 1992, when receiving an Order of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth, she spun around in the Buckingham Palace courtyard, accidentally exposing to photographers that she didn’t wear underwear to the event. She embraced the slip-up and handled it brazenly, approaching it as more of a moment than a mistake.
Years later, one of her wedding gowns was featured as Carrie Bradshaw’s wedding dress in the 2008 movie adaption of “Sex and the City.” Her dress was credited as a pinnacle fashion piece of the film, yet Westwood was unimpressed with its overall styling and walked out of the premiere after 10 minutes, calling renowned stylist Patricia Fields wardrobe choices “nothing interesting or remotely memorable.”
How much do I love a creative woman who speaks her mind? Almost as much as I love punk-inspired fashion. I’m far too Canadian to really ever be that way myself, but I admire those who are even more of a spitfire than me.
So what can you expect from Vivienne Westwood’s current line? I headed to the Honolulu showroom, located at the Moana Surfrider in Waikiki, to find out.
While I couldn’t attend the store’s one-year anniversary party on March 6 due to a singing obligation, I ended up helping some stylist and photographer friends with a shoot a few days before the event. I walked into the store slowly in my sky-high heels to find my photographer friend, who is clearly smarter than me and wore combat boots.
We browsed the lux blue and green faux crocodile clutches, ruffled collared blouses, purple and black fitted men’s dress pants and skull-emblazoned loafers and swooned.
Also in the new Westwood collection: schoolgirl plaid skirts and jackets, heels with hearts on the toes, planetary themed brooches, chic men’s button-up shirts and a men’s trench coat that’s to die for.
Not in the market for a high-end wardrobe makeover? No problem. You can find a gorgeous, single item to pair with your current wardrobe — a chic scarf for spring, or an accessory that will make you stand out from the crowd.
My photographer friend fell in love with a punk inspired T-shirt, and I fell in love with a reverse tiara with jeweled devil horns on it.
There are only two Vivienne Westwood showrooms in the United States, one in Los Angeles and the other here in Honolulu. Lucky us.
Stop by the Moana to see for yourself and let me know what your favorite pieces are!
Erin Smith is a singer and guitarist who performs as a solo artist and with Maui-based Na Hoku Hanohano Award-nominated band The Throwdowns. Born in Canada, she moved to Hawaii in 2004 and now resides in Kailua. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.