February 28, 2006

Vivienne Westwood spices up Paris fashion week

By Kerstin Gehmlich

PARIS (Reuters) - A flying penis, voluminous robes and a
call to release a convicted prisoner -- British fashion
designer Vivienne Westwood brought it all to Paris in a shrill
show on Tuesday.

In an autumn-winter collection inspired by Greek themes,
64-year-old Westwood paraded models in long, gold shimmering
coats and girls showing off colorful tights under bright purple
layered dresses with the word "Innocent" printed on them.

"I think it is terribly important to have opinions, and to
think. We live in a world of action without thought," said
Westwood, who has kept her eccentric edge since her bondage-
inspired creations for the Sex Pistols punk band in the 1970s.

Westwood, who is famed for using British fabrics such as
tweed and tartan for her daring clothes, has not been shy to
add a political touch to her clothes. Last year, she presented
tops reading "I'm not a terrorist. Please don't arrest me" to
protest against a tightening of anti-terrorism measures.

Wearing two sparkling little devil's horns in her bright
red hair, Westwood told reporters she wanted to raise attention
to the case of Leonard Peltier, a American Indian activist
convicted for the 1975 killings of two FBI agents.

"Leonard Peltier is innocent. He's been in jail for 30
years now," Westwood said, pointing to the invitation letter
for her show, featuring a blue penis with wings and the word

"The Greek penis is a good luck sign. It suits Leonard,
because if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time and you
get arrested, maybe you're getting jailed for the rest of your
life. So you need good luck not to be a criminal," she said.

Peltier, whose case has received international attention,
has been serving two consecutive life sentences for the agents'
deaths on an Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He has
unsuccessfully brought a number of appeals.

Wearing buttons reading "Innocent," models at Westwood's
show presented short suit jackets to wide voluminous ballroom
skirts, or coats with large shoulders spiking out.

The British designer recently told German magazine Stern
she would be ready to dress German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a
pastor's daughter from the communist east who is known for her
conservative dress sense.

Westwood's collection included a golden suit with a wide
hood, toga-style dresses in pink and purple and accessories
such as a police-man style visor in sparkling gold.

Westwood seems untiring in her work. But she told Reuters:
"The story of my life is (that I think) 'When I finish this
pair of trousers, I can read my book'. It's always been the
same. When I'm not having to work on fashion, I'm usually not
thinking about it at all."