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“Unisex is good for the environment.”

We wanted to celebrate the toga (and unisex clothing in general) so we gave five up and coming creatives; activists, artists, musicians, dancers and photographers the chance to style and shoot our togas as they wish. This week you will be able to see the outcome of each shoot on our Instagram account and the behind the scenes footage on Twitter. Don’t miss it! #ViviennesCreatives.

The concept of unisex as a look has been consciously brewing since the SS13 Gold label show ‘Climate Revolution’ where the square t-shirt was described as unisex.

The following collection AW13/14 brought in the idea of the girlfriend wearing her boyfriend’s clothes & the following SS14 MAN show first introduced a specific Unisex label, here it was first used just used on the knitwear.

Another jump to the unisex concept was premiered in the AW 15/16 MAN show where a woman modelled this line for the first time in a MAN show and in the successive Gold Label show (AW15/16) ‘Time to Act - Unisex’ seven men modelled wearing ‘oversized’ dresses & corset dresses along with women wearing Saville Row tailored men’s suits (& high heels).

For the SS16 MAN collection over half of the looks which appeared on the catwalk had the unisex label (helped by the fact that we have now grown the line beyond just knitwear & jersey).

The toga is one of the oldest & most widespread items of clothing in the whole world.

Made famous in Ancient Rome it was a strip of wool about 6 metres long that was wrapped around the body & worn over a tunic.

Other cultures of the past & present also use a long strip of fabric as the main part of their clothing although the methods of draping it around the body vary. Examples of this are the pleated dresses & skirts (in fine transparent linen) worn by Egyptian men & women, the saris worn in India, the Shuka worn by the Maasai tribes of Africa, the kasaya worn by Buddhist monks & the Great Kilts or Belted Plaids worn by the Scots.

A common thread in all these styles is their asymmetry. The fabric is pleated or draped around the body & a length of the fabric is generally thrown over one shoulder leaving the other shoulder naked.

Drapery has long been a feature of both Vivienne’s & Andreas’ designs for the Westwood label due both to the interesting dynamic it creates with the body & to their mutual respect for the Ancient World. Togas have also made their appearances regularly.

The first Westwood toga appeared in the SS82 collection ‘Savages’, made out of cotton jersey with a Matisse print on it & the same design appeared again in the subsequent AW83 ‘Nostalgia of Mud’ collection, this time in wool with a Greek print on it.

A different toga featured in the AW88/89 ‘Time Machine’ collection, this time in a shorter length. Some were made out of transparent chiffon & were worn over the top of Miss Marple tweeds and there were also heavier blanket versions printed with Tudor Roses or in Tattersall check.

Togas have also featured in both the recent Milan Men’s show & women’s Gold Label show (now called Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood).  Vivienne’s favourite, originally a show piece, has been produced in a very small quantity due to it being an extremely labour intensive job to create. In essence it is an elasticated rectangle of fabric that has been hand laced with a strip of organza to close it around the body & legs but leaving it open from below the arms upwards to create the train. The fabric is then covered with sequins, hand stitched one by one. A number of the togas seen in the  AW1617 MAN (& Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood) will be arriving into selected Vivienne Westwood shops in the next few months.                                 

Have a party in your toga!

Shop Unisex Gold Label here.