Vivienne Westwood: The Revolution Starter

Dame Vivienne Westwood after unveiling her Spring/Summer 2010 women's collection greets attendees with a model down the run way; powered wig, iconic t-shirts; fashion with a message, audience appluse
Dame Vivienne Westwood after unveiling her Spring/Summer 2010 women’s collection greets attendees with a model down the runway

Buy less, choose well, and make it last. -Vivienne Westwood

This quote by Dame Vivienne Westwood reads quite straightforward. For more than 40 years, the designer has played pivotal roles in the evolution of British fashion and culture. Today, she remains at the forefront of fashion with her creative ideas and social beliefs.

Her creative ideas have given birth to the most beautiful and artful clothes, her social beliefs have led her to advocate relentlessly for climate control, as well as to aid poor countries’ economy. To the future generation, she has spoke out on the importance of self-cultivation and education in art, culture and history.

Whenever she’s been given the chance to speak to an audience, Vivienne Westwood always stresses these three things- “Buy less, choose well, and make it last.” Sometimes the last part is replaced with “do it yourself” (such as during this interview above at the Prince of Wales Garden Party.) Always, her aim is to reduce human-caused waste that constantly pollutes our environment and courages everyone to think before buying into everything that’s been advertised to the masses.

Frequently, Vivienne Westwood talks about how art and history have inspired her work and life. She emphasizes that one must learn about history, to change their views of life and understand the world. Because she sees that everything is connected, that if one’d understand history and embrace culture, then one is likely to do something about climate change and global warming. The audacious Dame reminds us that our current society is dangerously short of culture, and people are only trained up as consumers, and not thinking for themselves.

Wearing a dress she designed, Dame Vivienne Westwood presents fashion with a social message; climate revolution; DIY; olive colored platform sandals, asymmetrical dress, t-shirt sleeves black and white
Wearing a dress she designed, Dame Vivienne Westwood presents fashion with a social message

In the 70s, Vivienne Westwood and her boyfriend Malcom McLaren started designing and selling clothes in their boutique at 430 King’s Road in Chelsea, London. Each time they turned out a new collection, they’d change the interior decor and give the boutique a new name. In 1981, she presented her first runway show called “Worlds End,” clothes for pirates. The same year, the couple separated. “Worlds End” became the name for the boutique ever since.

From her  “Worlds End” website  you can read excerpts of her AR manifesto, also on her “Climate Revolution” website, the designer keeps a diary which includes a series of videos of her talking to viewers about the social and political climate of our present time.

In an interview from the 90s, she says, in order to become a better designer one needs to place fashion in a broader cultural term. Decades on, Vivienne Westwood is still hugely successful without compromising what she truly believes in. For this reason, she is just as ground breaking today as when she’d just started in the 70s.

Here is a rare video of the Dame talking about paintings and art history at the National Gallery in London. (As a side-note, the “AR” pin she’s wearing stands for “Active Resistance to propaganda.”)

As “another” side-note, did you know I also write reviews for art galleries and museums? If you are taking Vivienne Westwood’s advice seriously, you can start learning about the social and cultural impact of fashion from a review I wrote for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) of their exhibition called “Items: Is Fashion Modern?”

If you’d like to read more about climate change and eco-fashion, these two articles might interest you.

In 2016, Vivienne Westwood published two books, “Get A Life!” and “Vivienne Westwood” with Ian Kelly. Both are excellent for finding out more about her social cause and life’s work. I highly recommend.

The "AR" pin Vivienne Westwood is wearing here stands for "active resistance to propaganda."
The “AR” pin she is wearing here stands for “active resistance to propaganda”

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