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Westwood showcases support for Assange on London catwalk

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Sun, 17 Feb 2013 19:38 GMT
Author: Reuters
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By Alice Baghdjian and Dasha Afanasieva

LONDON, Feb 17 (Reuters) - British designer Vivienne Westwood showcased more than her fashion designs at London Fashion Week on Sunday by sporting a Julian Assange T-shirt in support of the WikiLeaks founder.

British designer Westwood selected a T-shirt emblazoned with her face and the words "I am Julian Assange" to wear at her Red Label fashion show, which sent models in ribbed, woollen dresses striding down the halls of London's Saatchi Gallery.

The veteran designer, a leading name on the London leg of the international fashion circuit, called Assange a "hero" and said she had raised 3,000 pounds (${esc.dollar}4,700)for him through selling the T-shirts.

"I'm a big supporter of Julian Assange," Westwood told Reuters. "He's an incredible hero because he exposes the lies of the war mafia people."

"I love people who stick their necks out," she said.

Assange incensed the United States and its allies by using WikiLeaks to leak hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic and military cables in 2010, disclosures that often embarrassed Washington.

In October, the website published what it said were more than 100 U.S. Defense Department files detailing military detention policies in camps in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks on U.S. targets.

Assange has been holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London since June to avoid extradition from Britain to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault. He denies any wrongdoing.

Over the years, designers have used London Fashion Week to make political slogans, taking advantage of the international audience of buyers and celebrities to garner maximum publicity for their causes.

Buyers from 39 different countries are attending and the British Fashion Council estimates orders of more than 100 million pounds are placed during London Fashion Week each season.

The direct value of the British fashion industry to Britain's ${esc.dollar}2.5 trillion economy is 21 billion pounds (${esc.dollar}32.60 billion), the council said.

NOSTALGIA

Music boomed through the white-washed corridors, where Westwood teamed purples, teals and neutral tones for her flowing skirts, simple knitwear and zebra print coats.

Canadian rock star Bryan Adams, as well British socialite sisters Peaches and Pixie Geldof turned out to see the show.

"She is an original ... there's no one like Vivienne," Adams told Reuters on the sidelines of the event.

Nostalgia reigned elsewhere at London Fashion Week, as designers Alice Temperley and Emilia Wickstead, both favourites of the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, honoured Britain's rich fashion history with their creations.

Chain-linked trapeze dresses with matching swing coats created striking silhouettes at Temperley London, followed by ivory empire-line evening gowns embellished with crystals.

"I've always been obsessed with looking back to different eras," Temperley said.

Silk day dresses in Thirties-style cuts and pink Sixties shifts peppered with pearls paraded across the wooden floors of one of Mayfair's luxury hotels for Wickstead's show.

Wickstead said her aim had been to create a wardrobe for the modern working woman that was practical, elegant and strong.

"My clothes are always kind of dressy-uppy, let's say, a little feminine, so I wanted to add a bit of punch to the collection and I wanted it to have attitude," Wickstead said.

Looking ahead to Monday, eyes are on Christopher Kane's show, whose label was bought into by French luxury group PPR in January, and American designer Tom Ford who will be showcasing his womenswear on the catwalk for the first time in London. (${esc.dollar}1 = 0.6442 British pounds) (Editing by Alison Williams)

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