The catwalk model, actress and designer Susie Cave has been an emboldened fan of Vivienne Westwood’s since she was 13 years old. Going on to model for Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler many years later, she soaked in every awestruck minute. A 30-page portfolio in AnOther Magazine Autumn/Winter 2017 examines the impact of pioneers Westwood and Kronthaler, and would be incomplete without the voices of the brand’s dearest friends. Here, Susie Cave wrote to us recollecting the enduring impact that Westwood has had on her life and style.
“My relationship with Vivienne began as I was reapplying my lipstick at the dinner table at La Coupole in Paris when I was about 23 years old.
“I was very excited to meet her as I had known about her since I was 13 at school and my best friend Tammy, who was the daughter of John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin, arrived at school after half-term wearing a pirate outfit from head-to-toe! From that moment Vivienne became my hero because the unabashed costuming of the pirate outfit showed us young girls that we could be anything we wanted – no boundaries, no borders. Tammy had been completely transformed. The clothes were hellishly expensive but it didn’t matter, it just showed you that you could make your own, the more shameless the better!
“At the dinner table of La Coupole in Paris I was trying to hide that I was putting my lipstick on at the table when Vivienne spoke these words to me: ‘I really like the way you’re doing that Susie, it’s very old fashioned’. I remember very clearly the things Vivienne said to me, she was so direct, I love that about her – even when it’s not always what you want to hear!
“She was the ship’s captain, our supreme leader, and we were her Godless figureheads dressed in her crazy, scandalous clothing. I wouldn’t trade those years for anything. They made me” – Susie Cave
“Once, at the Bain Douche in Paris, she spoke to me on the dancefloor. I must have been a bit drunk and was moaning about how much I hated being in Paris at that moment and she said, ‘Well what are you doing here then?’ It’s a perfectly normal question but with Vivienne I always felt challenged to the core of my being by her ferocious intelligence! I was challenged not just by her words but the very nature of the clothes. Clothes that dared you to wear them, to ride strong and proud the stares and looks of disdain you got when you stepped out onto the streets, head held high and a feeling of ‘This is who I am. Make way!’
“To be chosen by Vivienne to work for her was the greatest honour. Those times were very special and I am so grateful that I experienced them with Vivienne and Andreas and, of course, Sara Stockbridge who in my opinion is just the greatest girl ever to walk the earth – I was in love with her, awed by her. I often played the man when we walked out together, she was so utterly feminine and beautiful. I have a perfect vision of Sara Stockbridge in a tiny black velvet mini skirt and corset, white stockings and frilly lace knickers, with her blonde hair in golden curls, walking down the Kings Road; cars colliding as she waves at them, people stopping in their tracks and just gawping, the extreme sexiness of the cut of the clothes and the quote on her T-shirt that read ‘The Truth Loves To Go Naked’.
“Vivienne was the wildest of them all. An unstoppable force that continues to this day. Her shows were insane, just sweet anarchy and to be a part of them, so early in my career, transformed me, gave me a voice – as she did to so many people – and inspired me to just be the person I wanted to be. She was the ship’s captain, our supreme leader, and we were her Godless figureheads dressed in her crazy, scandalous clothing. I wouldn’t trade those years for anything. They made me.”
This interview was conducted for the Autumn/Winter 2017 issue of AnOther Magazine, on sale now.