Vivienne Westwood is using fashion to make a difference in the world.
The veteran designer has never been afraid to use her voice to demand attention. Westwood was one of the founders of the punk movement, bringing the anti-establishment message to fashion. Yesterday, the 74 year old started a new movement, called Mirror the World.
Vivienne Westwood, who runs a website called climate revolution, is working very hard to bring that message home in an industry that desperately needs it, even recently driving a tank to David Cameron’s constituency home to protest against fracking.
Before her London Fashion Week show, Westwood led what she called a “Fash Mob” outside the University of Westminster. A group of models and campaigners, wearing colourful, waved placards that said “Fracking is a crime”, and “Austerity is a crime”, among others.
Her protest was not confined to the outdoors. There was a personal note from Westwood on each chair that talked about the imminent environmental dangers we face. Her catwalk show began with a group of people carrying the same placards.
The collection itself was wonderfully inventive, most notable for the extremely elegant dresses on show. The models wore black eye makeup that looked like war paint.
Westwood talks about her aims and how she sometimes feels like a lone voice. What is wonderful about this campaign, though, is that it’s not just about climate change, it’s about people and how to lead a good life. She says of the meaning of the term Mirror the World,
“That means that you understand the world through art and culture. You understand the genius of the human race and yourself in relation to it, and you’re like a tiny shard of mirror that’s an exact copy of the whole world. You’re very beautiful because you understand the beauty of the world, you understand the human race and you want to do your best.”
Often, Vivienne Westwood’s outspokenness is treated as something indulgent, as a charming eccentricity of Britain’s grand dame of fashion. In truth, she is bringing a very serious message to an industry that desperately needs to acknowledge it. The structures that the fashion industry are currently built on are completely unsustainable. In talking about it with a universal viewpoint, Vivienne Westwood continues to inspire younger generation, as she has been doing for decades.
We’re lucky to have a principled and vocal campaigner in such a senior figure in the fashion industry. Westwood shows again and again, with unmatched style and panache, that fashion can be a force for good in the world.