“I have always loved the Mao cap, though I hate violent revolution.” Thus spake legendary British designer Vivienne Westwood, who cites China as the key inspiration behind her Spring/Summer 2012 Gold Label collection at Paris Fashion Week on Friday. Coupled with oversized 17th century corsetry, the Berbers of North Africa, and desertification as a result of climate change, and you have an idiosyncratic panoply of cobweb knits, tablecloth-lace wedding gowns, stiff brocade jackets, and ticking-stripe bedspread dresses that could only have sprung from the mind of the Godmother of Punk herself. But back to the Chinese. “I hope their traditional wisdom and experience from a culture going back to Confucius may help us to save the planet,” she says.


Westwood enlisted Zhijia Wang, deputy director of UNEP’s Division of Regional Cooperation, to pen the Chinese characters that adorn some of her garments. “Mr. Wang wrote my name and the words ‘green economy’ in his calligraphy,” she says. “And I incorporated this in a print taken from Chinese flower painting.”

Westwood enlisted Zhijia Wang, who works with the UN, to pen the calligraphy that adorns some of her garments.

Accompanying her show was live music from 16-year-old pianist Kyle Nash-Baker, who composed a piece that dovetailed with Westwood’s “World Family Tree,” a noodle-twisting, pseudo-intellectual concept that starts off with the marriage of “Gaia the Earth Mother” and “Science” and climaxes with the birth of “Unlimited Profit,” “Unlimited Consumption” and, quite possibly, the apocalypse.

“I agree with Vivienne that art rests as the center of human existence,” Nash-Baker says. “The path she maps on the tree, regarding the union of Gaia and science demonstrates our better chance to navigate the problems that humanity is building for itself.”

If you managed to parse all that, you’re made of better stuff that we.

+ Vivienne Westwood Gold Label