Westwood’s design work has always been interwoven with politics and philosophy. I mean, this is true of everyone—aesthetics are always the thin end of the wedge of a philosophy that is always present whether admitted or not—but with Westwood it’s conscious and overt. Her work disrupts the expected in terms of class, national traditions, the history of fashion, gender, the constraints of conformity, everything. She is completely unafraid of being a designer who talks about politics. See also Vivienne Westwood’s London (promo embedded below).
“In Italy they take cheap cloth and make it look expensive, but I take expensive cloth and make it look cheap. They just don’t understand.”
—Vivienne Westwood in 1986, after losing a contract with Armani.
ON TRAVEL AND ART
“I try to concentrate on quality clothing and accessories that are worth having, and to get my people to take fewer trips by air and stay longer each time they travel. It’s more human, especially if they take time to visit an art gallery while there.”
—Vivienne Westwood speaking in the June 2011 issue of British Marie Claire.
“For every tree they cut down, a future child dies, and there are more trees than children. Some people know these things but they plan to end the rainforest in one generation.”
—Vivienne Westwood at the launch of her People Tree T-shirt dress in May 2011.
“There is a real connection between culture and climate change. We all have a part to play and if you engage with life, you will get a new set of values, get off the consumer treadmill, and start to think, and it is these great thinkers who will rescue the planet.”
—Vivienne Westwood, speaking on television on February 2010.
“I have always loved the Mao cap, though I hate violent revolution.”
—Vivienne Westwood, at her Spring/Summer 2012 show at Paris Fashion Week.
ON LOS ANGELES
“Within one generation, Los Angeles will be uninhabitable if people don’t do something about it. The world is going to get smaller and be uninhabitable and impossible to live in.”
—Vivienne Westwood at the opening of her store in Melrose in April 2011.
“Governments…are so slow that we can’t wait for them any more. We have to get this thing moving and hope that they’ll join in.”
—Vivienne Westwood in November 2011, after pledging £1 million to mitigate climate change.
ON THE DIY MOVEMENT
“Wear a towel instead of a coat, it’s very chic. Or your husband’s boxer shorts with a belt, or something from your grandmother. It’s all about do-it-yourself at the moment.”
—Vivienne Westwood at the New Economics Forum in November 2011.
ON DISPOSABLE FASHION
“People have never looked so ugly as they do today. We just consume far too much.. I’m talking about all this disposable crap. What I’m saying is buy less, choose well. Don’t just suck up stuff so everybody looks like clones. Don’t just eat McDonald’s, get something a bit better. Eat a salad. That’s what fashion is. It’s something that is a bit better.”
—Vivienne Westwood, speaking to reporters after her Autumn/Winter 2012 show at London Fashion Week
“How impossible it is for us to imagine ourselves victims of disaster. We suffer for the poor people who were thrown into the sea from their cruise ship off the coast of Tuscany, some losing their lives. Imagine a world of accelerating natural disasters, one after the other so that nobody can help anyone else.”
—Vivienne Westwood, speaking in a statement in January 2012.
ON DRESSING WELL
“There’s this idea that somehow you’ve got to keep changing things, and as often as possible. Maybe if people just decided not to buy anything for a while, they’d get a chance to think about what they wanted; what they really liked.”
—Vivienne Westwood in the Oct. 4, 2007 edition of The Telegraph.
“If you ask me what I think people should be getting next season, I’ll tell you what I’d like them to buy—nothing. I’d like people to stop buying and buying and buying.”
—Vivienne Westwood in the same interview.