FROCK AND SHOCK

for Dame Vivienne (Swire) Westwood
          April 8th 1941 – 29th December 2022

Yesterday’s dress will now shine
Despite the dark of death’s cupboard
As you close the door to the showroom
And walk the way shadows walk

Into a new form of light
Where the saintly will now meet the sequin And where the young girl from Derby’s
Still designing as her crowds comprise deep     
                                        dream talk.

From war baby to Dame. From SEX
To Branson’s Virgin Air Stewards
Your control of the image and the shape
Of female need shifted seams

From unfashionable gusset to gain
And then on towards glamour
You polished the diamond
That with a punk stung swipe made spit
                                     Gleam

Before smoothing all as the clothes
You made became anthems
Of outrage, and liberation as motion
Turned to World movement and the ripped

T-shirt as totem stood in a fiery field
Of its own. The leather dress walked
Your way. Fishnet and basque broke desire.
As your art framed all women or as women

Framed you, dares were thrown.
And courted by you. Whether beside or post
Malcolm. When he shot the bolt
With the Pistols you were remaking it

Across thread. Each stitch was a stance.
Each template a teasing. Each ease
And constriction a way to make a dress
A thing said. If not a poem, a song

Or a cinerama of being. Dear Vivien
Today, shoulders are colder as your streak
Of sensation follows the untimely trek
Of the dead. But as you step aside,

A new catwalk continues, bridging
Dimensions as angels and stars
Vie for you. They’re after a new outfit now
For which you can reimagine the astral

Let’s have God look like Lydon
And then dress the Devil in punk pink
Like Jordan or like something from Jarman
In a pretty boy spunk stained blue.

English rose, you raised thorns
Into fashion spiced buttons.
You made from dresses desire
And changed with one sketch, attitudes.

So, stake your claim with such stars.
The women weep. The men shudder.
Your uniforms for love’s armies
Win more than mere platitudes.

You changed the way we behave.
You made clothes destination.
McQueen and Versace and the scene
Shapers still here dream of you.

Just as you dreamed for them.
Vivien, what are you wearing?
What will we wear when time takes us?
Angel’s wing? Fire? Somewhere perhaps

In what’s left us we will at last in fading light
Glimpse what’s true.

David Erdos 29/12/22

Jeff Morgan 12 / Alamy Stock Photo

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