It's Rule Brittania for Vivienne Westwood

THOMAS ADAMSON Associated Press Published:

PARIS (AP) -- "London," the title of Vivienne Westwood's costume-design inspired fall-winter collection, had it all: Elizabethan corsets, Sherlock Holmes tweed, scholars gowns and even a model cycling down the catwalk.

With such dizzying allusions it's hard to know where to start in describing the rebellious ready-to-wear show. It was said to channel 17th century Britain but saw models stomping around some 400 years of fashion history -- all in contemporary black moon boots.

The highly structured silhouettes included some rigid corset bustiers that recalled embellished crinoline of the Restoration epoch.

Rectangles were also a motif, in small peplum lapels or as a flat patterned square Beefeater dress, whose shape resembled that of the poster boys that stand in London's Leicester Square.

At times, there was an element of couture-meets-school-play as draped silks sported rough edges or theatrical embroidered beading.

If the show were a play, it would probably have been a Sherlock Holmes murder mystery with several tweed looks channeling the fashion of the fictional 19th century detective, in deconstructed coats with a flat cap.

When quizzed backstage, the 70-year-old designer, who often makes political statements in her work, said she looked to the past to get away from the current "terrible, crashing times."

It's an artistic escapism that many designers say they've taken up this fall whether in Paris, New York or Milan. But of all of them, Westwood has had the most fun: the fashion crowd giggled when a model nearly crashed riding a bike in 4-inch platforms.

Westwood quipped she loves "to put women on a pedestal."