Andreas Kronthaler made the most of quarantine. Between reading poems and writing a diary with his wife, Vivienne Westwood, the Austrian designer kept his creativity running while focusing on the essential. This season, him who created his own line within the British brand four years ago was inspired by his daily life with his beloved muse, thus presenting less silhouettes. The pieces of his new collection are colourful and showcase different types of prints; from flowers to electric blue leopard and quotes from Vivenne Westwood herself. The materials used all respect the ethical transparency of the house: organic cottons, recycled polyester and a teal blue shimmering fabric made from plastic bottles are all explicitly identified by the designer. Asymmetrical dresses, bustiers and skirts with slits, but also sweatpants, leggings and wide leg trousers create contrasted ensembles that translate the punk spirit and the experimental approach of the designer. In front of a white background, the models – among who Andreas Kronthaler and Vivienne Westwood – take on theatrical personas and recite poems in videos – another demonstration of the irreverent humour that characterises the line created by the Austrian designer in 2016. The latter spoke with Numéro about this new collection.
How was it to imagine and produce this collection during this very particular year?
It was very difficult but there was a base there. We are used to work with factories, weavers, and somehow it led us to remember our history and your sources. Everything had to be a bit slower, but to tell you the truth, I was already very used to work in this range before Covid-19. I made a very small collection initially, but when lockdown happened I reduced it even more, I broke it down to the most essential because I thought that was appropriate. The collection was ready by the end of June, so its presentation in September has been really fluid : we made the little film, we had time to look at it and edit it, so I did not feel this stress I normally feel when I plan a show. It’s weird actually, I kind of miss the pressure and the hectic vibe!
Andreas Kronthaler Spring-Summer 2021 collection for Vivienne Westwood
This collection seems very archetypal, as the different models – including you and Vivienne – play different characters for each look. Were clothes inspired by specific people or fictional characters?
It was inspired by ourselves, really. During lockdown I was keeping this diary of Vivienne : we did photographs, speeches, recordings… So I wanted to continue that through the collection.I did the pictures myself, I didn’t want a big production and tried to play it as safe as possible, so it was a very organic process of working. Among the models was also Sara Stockbridge, who was Vivienne’s big muse in the mid-80s, and Vivienne is my own muse, so everything made sense. As for the poems, it comes from the lockdown where I didn’t really read anything nor listen to music nor watch anything. But I was reading poems and reciting them, and we were connecting with poems much better than with book, somehow. I wanted to insert that in the video, with the text appearing on the image because I wanted people to understand them.
These past years, Vivienne has been more and more present in the brand’s image. Why is it so important to make her embody the collection ?
She’s my partner in crime! If she likes what I do and gives her benediction, I am fine with it, as I am rather critical of what I do. Vivienne always brings the drama, because she always plays the part of the characters she embodies. If anybody’s making a picture of her she will be like: “wait a second, I have to know what I’m doing!” That’s the intentions she puts on everything, it’s how she is. Until recently, we all were shooting with Juergen Teller and I miss it very much because it was not possible this time, so I had to be the one who takes the pictures of her. She’s a nightmare because she has these long nails on the telephone, but we managed to do it! [laughs]
You have been working with Vivienne for 30 years and officially opened your first line 4 yeas ago. How do you manage to stay inspired while sticking to the brand’s history and DNA?
When I came to Vivienne, she already had a big history so there was a lot there to work with. For a while, I dived into this past in a very playful way, always trying to add something to it. You could see it like a bridge where you keep putting something on to make it more about here and now. But I don’t really think too much about the past now, and I also care very much about my creative freedom!
Many changes have happened over the past months, and fashion makes no exception. How do you see the future of your brand and fashion in general in a post-Covid-19 world?
What the pandemic did mostly is that it slowed it down, which was very necessary. Fashion was spiraling to its own end, keeping doing things that were not necessary, so I hope there are good consequences coming out of it even if it’s a bit too early to say. It is very hard to look into the future, especially now. To me, it is a very challenging period because we have to make decisions we kind of avoided before. 30 years of working in this industry is a lot of time, and when I started, fashion was much more peaceful and humane, less hectic – people knew each other, for instance. Maybe we will get back to this world again!