Last week I watched the excellent Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist (Lorna Tucker, 2018) and was reminded of my love for Vivienne Westwood. Her enduring punk aesthetic with influences from historical costuming light up any runway and make my heart sing to look on them.
I do not see myself as any kind of authority on fashion – indeed, how can one be an authority when it comes to fashion – so I am not focusing this Monday post on Dame Vivienne’s incredible design career. I do not have the chops to break down the way in which Vivienne was instrumental in defining the look of punk and continuing to evolve this over 40+ years of design, both artistically challenging and incredibly wearable. I do not even want to get into describing to you how powerful I feel when I pin in a pair of Vivienne Westwood earrings (all that remains of a very small, and very small – in that, I don’t fit in those few pieces any more – collection) to complete an outfit. There is something about a Vivienne Westwood orb which comes loaded with a great big ‘fuck you’ to anyone who would dare to tell you what you can or cannot do.
What I want to share with you on this first Monday of the autumn is a clip from 1988 in which Vivienne Westwood appeared on Wogan (BBC flagship teatime chat show), hosted by Sue Lawley.
They laughed at her! The audience laughed at Vivienne Westwood! How very dare they?
This moment is discussed in Lorna Tucker’s film and it is pointed out that the studio audience were all fairly elderly and fairly conservatively dressed (no shade, they weren’t young and trendy). Whenever any judgement is made, we HAVE to ask who it is that is making the call. Those people laughing at Vivienne Westwood’s designs had no appreciation of the concept of fashion as art. They certainly had no appreciation or respect for the designer.
I would love to bake a cake for Dame Vivienne Westwood on your behalf, for every time that you have ever been laughed at; for every time that you have been told who you are, what you should do, what you want to do (a personal favourite of mine… ‘you know what you want to do’), what you cannot do. There are people that won’t get you and will never get you and that is absolutely fine because for every one of them, there may just be an army who think that you are fabulous.
They all laughed at Christopher Columbus
When he said the world was round
They all laughed when Edison recorded sound
They all laughed at Wilbur and his brother
When they said that man could fly…
But ho, ho, ho!
Who’s got the last laugh now?
Here’s to being rebellious and doing what feels right to you.