Andreas Kronthaler For Vivienne Westwood: A Family Affair

It’s never easy to continue a designer’s legacy once they’ve passed away, but when that designer is Vivienne Westwood, the task is particularly fraught. Like Azzedine Alaïa’s, Westwood’s designs were as unique as fingerprints, as unmistakably Vivienne as that shock of orange hair and the porcelain skin that made her look preternaturally otherworldly. If the French painter François Boucher was one of her inspirations, had she lived in the 18th century she would equally have been one of his.

Westwood’s death in 2022, aged 81, shocked and saddened the fashion industry, leaving a deep V-shaped hole in the fabric of British fashion. Put simply, there was no one else like her. That’s something which is often said when people die, but Westwood truly was a one-off. She was born a trailblazer and died a trailblazer, her lust for life blissfully uneroded by the passage of time, the causes she cared about as passionately fought for towards the end of her life as at the beginning. There is nothing good to be extrapolated from her passing, but the fact that her legacy is being kept alive by her husband Andreas Kronthaler, 58, make the loss feel, if not less sad, then at least buffered by the comfort that her label’s future is in such safe and loving hands.

Of the many things that Westwood’s fans would have expected from the first fashion show to be staged after her passing, “familiarity” likely wasn’t one of them. Difference, definitely. Maybe a refreshing of house codes. But the opposite happened. It wasn’t that Kronthaler had forensically gone through her archives. He didn’t need to. They’re imbued in him, as someone who worked alongside her since 1991 and had been her partner for more than 30 years. More intimately than this, he’d gone through her personal wardrobe.

Anyone who has had to do this will attest to how heart-wrenching a task it can be. Nothing is more intimate than clothes. Nothing sparks more sadness than the sight of a favourite dress destined never to be worn again. Going through his wife’s wardrobe, Kronthaler was perhaps able to stave off some of the sadness by adopting the practised eye of an archivist and designer, one who knew he could make her personal effects live on by incorporating the very clothes she wore into his – their – next collection.

From left: CT Hedden, Julia Muggenburg

He distilled this treasure trove of clothes down to 34 looks, to reflect the number of years he’d known her, transforming them into the garments that formed the spring 2024 collection. Some are instantly recognisable such as the brown corduroy suit that Westwood wore like a uniform for 20 years. Kronthaler recast it in lilac, a colour loaded with symbolism and often equated with first love, rebirth and spirituality. Other instantl recognisable pieces included the oversized, floor-length jacquard bow hat from Westwood’s AW09 collection, the Inferno jacket from AW05 and a smattering of her famed corsets, design classics so in demand that new iterations never remain in stock and vintage pieces go for many times their original price on collectors’ sites. Case in point: in 2021, a corset from her AW90 Portrait collection, its satin front panel printed with a detail from Boucher’s painting Daphnis and Chloe (1743), sold at auction for £6,000.

If Kronthaler’s offering had featured instantly recognisable classics, it also delved deeper into lesser-known territory. One of the most intimate looks was worn by the model Honor Fraser, a long-time Vivienne muse, who appeared in a deep blue button-front silk dress decorated with badges that spoke of Westwood’s passionate activism. Almost as personal was a linen cape, a reworked rendition of the one Vivienne wore to drive a tank, as you do, onto the Oxfordshire lawn of then-prime minister David Cameron, in 2015, to protest against fracking.

With a collection this personal, it was only fitting that it was modelled by a cast of favourite faces. As these backstage pictures capture so well, there was a real sense of community and continuity derived from seeing Fraser and Tasha Tilberg model, as well as newer creative friends of the house. Those friends, including Ellen von Unwerth, Christina Hendricks and Pamela Anderson, as passionate an activist as Westwood, watched on from the front row, which only deepened this sense of community.

And then there were the brides: two of them. Irina Shayk looked resplendent in a moiré silk gown with pannier hips and a ruched, bodiced corset whose beauty needed no further embellishment. Touchingly, Westwood’s granddaughter Cora Corré closed the show in a two-piece gown, also silk, comprising a calf-length skirt and a zippered off-the-shoulder top with an exaggerated peplum, its design taken from SS12’s War and Peace. With her flat bow shoes and natural wavy hair, she looked the quintessence of the modern bride. It takes a certain type of bride to wear Westwood. What do Jaime Winstone, Barbara Palvin, Lorraine Pascale and Miley Cyrus have in common? Beyond the fact that they all chose to wear Vivienne on their big days, they share the same big personalities. Strong women all, they gravitated towards Westwood not simply for her unparalleled ability to flatter the female form, but for her subversive spirit. Sure, wedding ceremonies are great, but have you ever felt kind of suffocated by all that “till death do us part” stuff? Carrie Bradshaw did – another Westwood bride, even if she didn’t make it down the aisle first time around. A wedding gown by Vivienne isn’t merely a fashion statement: it’s a statement of intent that, although you may be entering the venerable institution of marriage, you’re going to do it your way.

From left: Gendai wears ANDREAS KRONTHALER FOR VIVIENNE WESTWOOD, Isamaya Ffrench

This was one of Westwood’s biggest mantras, even if she’d never have been so cheesy as to sing it loudly à la Frank Sinatra. Instead, it was a way of life. As a woman designing for women, she understood the female form completely. “My clothes have always got a very strong dynamic rapport with the body – they are very body-conscious, they help you to look glamorous, more hourglass, more woman,” she once said. She revealed the female body fearlessly, both on the catwalk and personally. Long before nudity got commodified by the sex tape generation, Westwood was rocking up to Buckingham Palace to collect her OBE from the Queen wearing no knickers under her gorgeous dress, an audacious act at any time, never mind in 1992. It was a pure punk flex, from the woman who invented it.

Westwood is always called ‘anti-establishment’, and she was, but in a far deeper and more meaningful way than her royal stunt might suggest to those not well-acquainted with her career. That reveal got the tabloids talking, but Westwood was a mistress in the art of using her platform as a force for positive change. For her, fashion was as political as it was personal, and she used it to speak about the issue of climate change, her stance against fracking and her ardent dislike of capitalism, passions that only increased in ardour as she aged. Her charity, The Vivienne Foundation, continues this legacy: its missions to halt climate change, stop war, defend human rights and protest capitalism are no small feat, but as she always said, “tomorrow is too late”.


I only interviewed her once, in the late 1990s, when I was fashion editor at the Guardian, a newspaper whose politics aligned with hers, which is probably why she allowed the interview. She called me “dear”: I remember chuckling at how, had she been a man, this would have made me want to lamp her. So meandering was her thought process, so quickfire her brain and so rapid her speech, that I remember the transcription process taking the best part of a day. Not that I minded. Most fashion journalists would probably concede that Vivienne had a special place in their hearts and I was no different. Hers was the first fashion show I ever saw, while still a student at Central Saint Martins. As part of our course, we were taken to Paris and told to blag ourselves into as many shows as we could, using whichever means we cared to. I was hopeless at it, mortified, stupefied that anyone could ever have the balls. My tutor Sally Brampton (whose “other” job was being the editor of Elle) must have sensed this and took pity on me: not only did she give me her hallowed ticket to gain access to the venue, but she insisted that I sit in her front row seat. She, meanwhile, sat cross-legged on the floor in front of me, in an upending of fashion’s carefully constructed, rigidly enforced hierarchy, which Vivienne would have approved of.

I’ll never forget that moment, just as I’ll never forget finding a peplum-waisted denim jacket from her SS91 Cut, Slash and Pull collection reduced to £20 in a long-shuttered boutique in Covent Garden. The same jacket, part of a suit, is for sale on 1stDibs for £6,000. I won’t be selling mine, even if these days it makes me look like Midlife Denim Big Bird. “Buy less. Choose well. Make it last,” was her mantra. I did, Vivienne. When it came to your designs, we all did.

Top image: Mathilda wears ANDREAS KRONTHALER FOR VIVIENNE WESTWOOD. Taken from 10 Magazine Issue 72 – DARE TO DREAM – out now! Order your copy here.




Models IRINA SHAYK at Elite Models, CORA CORRE at Tess Management, MATHILDA GVARLIANI and GRETA HELENE at Next Management, GENDAI FUNATO at The Claw and ADAM CASTELLANO at 16 & 16 Men
Manicurist AMA QUASHIE

Shopping cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping