Rebel Queen: Vivienne Westwood Tells Us Her Most Revolutionary Moments
What would an issue about rebellion be without an appearance from Vivienne Westwood? Bold, radical, shocking and unique – the irrepressible Dame Viv has shaken up what we wear and how we think. Here, she shares 10 moments of Westwood-brand activism – the times she has stood up, fought back and socked it to the man, in her words
“I realised it wasn’t enough, jumping around wearing safety pins and a ‘Destroy’ T-shirt. You need ideas to be subversive. That is why the punk movement folded – ideas don’t come on a plate. You have to get them yourself by becoming engaged with the world and its past.” VWACTIVE RESISTANCE SS06
“Having analysed that culture is the antidote to propaganda (consumption), I named this collection AR = Active Resistance (to propaganda). The only real hero on kids’ T-shirts seemed to be Che Guevara, so I put Rembrandt – wearing his beret – as a hero of culture. “Active Resistance is founded on the idea that the art lover is a freedom fighter for a better world because he/she thinks, and his/her exploration of the past gives him/her a perspective from which to form their own opinions and to act. “I wrote my manifesto, which is a journey to find art. We staged readings in 20 colleges around the country. There are 20 different characters, including Aristotle, Pinocchio and Alice in Wonderland. Students joined in and acted the parts. It was once performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company.” VW
Photographer Oliviero Toscani Studio
ETHICAL FASHION AFRICA AW11
The Vivienne Westwood Ethical Fashion Initiative bags are “Handmade with Love” in Nairobi. They have been produced since 2010 in collaboration with the Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI) of the International Trade Centre – a joint body of the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation – which currently supports the work of thousands of women micro-producers from marginalised African communities. The EFI empowers informal manufacturers and craftspeople to enter the international value chain, providing an income for some of the poorest people in the world. This promotes the growth of sustainable business in place of aid dependency and creates stability among these impoverished communities. This is not charity, this is work. “This project gives people control over their lives – charity doesn’t give control, it does the opposite, it makes them dependent. These people have more control over their lives and can therefore choose not to exploit the environment, because they have an alternative way of making money.” VW
Photographer Juergen Teller
SUPPORT OF JULIAN ASSANGE, SINCE 2012
“Julian Assange has claimed asylum under the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Julian could be facing life imprisonment or even the death sentence in the US if extradited. New laws take away our basic freedoms and rights. They have been introduced to protect the people in power. Meanwhile, the UK ignores facts and the opinion of the UN. If Julian walks out of the door of the embassy they will arrest him with no justification whatsoever. Until recently, the UK pretended to have a reason to arrest him, but now even the pretence has evaporated. They continue to threaten him illegally. Through WikiLeaks, Julian continues to expose the lies and distortions of the authorities. His fight is our fight. It is afight for freedom – freedom of information. We are Julian Assange, I am Julian Assange. “Here, I am with Andreas in 2013, wearing my ‘I’m Julian Assange’ T-shirt in the Ashaninka rainforest in Peru. I support the charity Cool Earth. They work with indigenous people and are on target to save the equatorial rainforest.” VW
Photographer David Ellis
UNFURLING THE CLIMATE REVOLUTION BANNER AT THE VIVIENNE WESTWOOD RED LABEL SS13 SHOW
Vivienne inaugurated the Climate Revolution at the 2012 Summer Paralympics closing ceremony in London and continues to rally charities, NGOs and individuals to join forces and take action against disengaged political leaders and big businesses.“The revolution has already begun. The fact of man-made climate change is accepted by most people. Through every walk of life, people are changing their values and their behaviour. This continues to build the revolution. The fight is no longer between the classes or between rich and poor, but between the idiots and the eco-conscious.” VW
PLUS 5 DEGREES MAP, 2012
“The map is the best thing I’ve ever done – it is a graphic representation of NASA’s geothermal map on climate change. Global warming is at the tipping point. If we go past it, we can’t stop it. All the methane kicks in. We’re there right now. “This map is the world at five degrees [higher]. If you draw a line parallel with Paris, everything below that is uninhabitable. This means, by the end of this century, there will only be 1 billion people left. Our politicians are preparing for this. They are not trying to stop it, they are preparing for it.
They just talk about how they are going to deal with it. How can you deal with it? It’s going to be absolute horror. The rainforest will be gone, the oceans will be dead, there will be no water. Everybody from Asia, Africa, South America will be on the move to this small part of the world that will be left. You’ll have warlords, corpses, you’ll have absolute horror, and these idiots talk about the fact that they are going to deal with it, they accept it. The point is to stop it! “We have no choice between a green economy and mass extinction. People are putting pressure on world politics. First step – SWITCH to a green-energy supplier. It’s so easy!” VW
SAVE THE ARCTIC GREENPEACE CAMPAIGN, 2014
February 2014: Vivienne Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler designed a Save the Arctic logo in support of Greenpeace’s global campaign, which was launched at the Vivienne Westwood Gold Label SS14 show. George Clooney, Pamela Anderson, Kate Moss, Stella McCartney, Naomi Campbell, Dame Judi Dench, Chris Martin and Grayson Perry were among 60 celebrities captured by award-winning photographer Andy Gotts MBE for the campaign. This extraordinary collection of stars wearing Vivienne Westwood’s Save the Arctic T-shirt reflects a growing global call for protection of the unique and fragile Arctic. The images were displayed publicly in a takeover of the entire advertising space beside the escalators running up from the Underground to the London HQ of the oil company Shell, who planned to drill for oil in the Arctic.
August 2014: Greenpeace took Vivienne Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler to the Arctic to see the effects of climate change on the region first-hand. Greenpeace hosted them and the team aboard the iconic ship Esperanza. The Arctic is one of the last untouched places on earth, home to only 4 million people, as well as animals found nowhere else on the planet. Greenpeace is working to ensure this precious region is protected for generations to come.“The Arctic is the land where Father Christmas lives. A great frozen ocean at the top of the world where the northern lights illuminate the sky and huge white bears swim in the icy waters. It is magical. We all know that the Arctic is melting. Save our Arctic – save our ocean, save our planet.” VW
“Caring about the alienation of young people from politics and culture, I asked myself, what would I tell them today? [Aldous] Huxley said the world has three evils – nationalistic idolatry (NI), which has taken the place of religion, non-stop distraction (NSD) and organised lying (OL). The greatest of these evils is nonstop distraction, which is based on consumption. My friend Gary Ness suggested the acronym NINSDOL – have you had your daily pill? I thought these three evils were the constituents of propaganda. I designed graphics for six T-shirts and also put them on other clothes and bags in the collection, which was called Propaganda.” VW
ANTI-FRACKING PROTEST, 2015
Wednesday, September 9, 2015: Vivienne Westwood joins Talk Fracking in an anti-fracking protest taken to David Cameron’s house by a military tank. “Tank to Cameron’s house near Witney, organised by Joe [Corré] and his Talk Fracking team. Cameron has exempted his house from fracking permits but allowed them on the surrounding land. Aim – to poison the garden of the poisoner. The nanas were waiting for us there and had brought their grandchildren. They are so important – a focus group against fracking. Their support must have been so useful to the Preston council in refusing planning permission for fracking. And I think they have been crucial in focusing public opinion against fracking, which is now 81%. The photos of the tank went everywhere, even China.” VW
ECOTRICITY AW17 – THE START OF THE SWITCH CAMPAIGN
“The global economic system is the cause of poverty, war and climate change. Therefore, we need to transfer to a green economy, but how? People ask, ‘What can I do?’ I’ve never had a satisfactory answer to give – inform yourself, talk to your friends, support the NGOs, save a plastic bag. Every one of your decisions counts. This answer doesn’t go very far in solving the total problem, which is overwhelming. Now I have the answer. First step – SWITCH to a green-energy supplier.
“Worldwide, there is massive movement towards the green economy, but the importance of SWITCH is the dynamic focus it will bring –
1. It gives people power.
2. It’s easy to do – just dial or click.
3. It will have immediate beneficial impact.
4. It will kick-start and drive the machinery of the worldwide movement in its various operations towards a green economy.
“I am working with the British Fashion Council to get the UK fashion industry to SWITCH all their UK retail stores and HQs to using green energy within the next three years. Fashion can lead the SWITCH revolution. Our ultimate aim is the free world economy. Whatever nature gives us free should not be privately owned.” VW
Taken from the latest issue of 10, REBEL HEART, on newsstands now…