This article is taken from the Autumn/Winter 2021 issue of AnOther Magazine:
Before she began her career in fashion, half a century ago now, Vivienne Westwood trained as a primary school teacher. It’s a mindset that has informed her work from the outset – occasionally, she still describes herself as a teacher, and has always created clothes that reflect that – to communicate a theory, to educate. Great teachers inspire: through her unparalleled creativity Westwood has tutored entire generations. For more than a decade her focus has been to draw attention to the plight of the planet through her clothes, of course, and also powerful graphics that trace back to her work in the 1970s. Her latest is a pack of playing cards that lays out a strategy to save the world. Across these pages, pieces by Westwood and her former pupil Andreas Kronthaler – today her husband and the creative director of her top-line collection – are joined by a new group of designers whose garments echo her working methods and draw infinite inspiration from her.
“We are looking through the lens of a changing world.
If the human race does not turn the telescope around we face mass extinction.
Climate change will reach tipping point.
I’ve been trying to save the world from climate change since the foundation of Climate Revolution 15 years ago, and now I’m up to Card 37 – back and front – I’m nearly there.
I’ve got my message across.
We’re already working on it! Follow me”
– Vivienne Westwood
A new generation of fashion designers on how Vivienne Westwood inspires.
“There’s no denying that Vivienne and Andreas have paved the way for me and my work. I feel like I’m from the same planet as them and have my own little island on it. Matty, too. It’s like we are sending smoke signals to each other and sending ships across the sea, with good tidings.”
“Growing up I saw the world a bit differently, and I believe Vivienne did too. She doesn’t believe in conformity, and she and Andreas like to push the idea of what is acceptable. That is a great, great thing to do and why their work speaks to so many people world-wide. Vivienne has taught me to truly believe in myself and to gain knowledge of how and where things are made. To question.”
“For me, her clothes liberate the body. When I first designed menswear, I used to come up against the limitations of what men’s clothes should be. But Vivienne has helped destroy these stereotypes, the idea that certain clothes are only for certain genders and classes. That means freedom.”
“I love Vivienne’s resilience. I can’t think of one time that she’s bent to the rules of the industry – even the word ‘industry’ can’t be associated with her. When we talk about Vivienne, we talk about art, emotion, design – that’s what I’ve always loved about her. She’s an artist, yet has been able to last in this business without ever compromising who she is. Meanwhile Andreas’s energy and spirit are out of this world. It’s so refreshing to see – I love unconventional men.”
“I feel like I’m from the same planet as them and have my own little island on it. Matty, too. It’s like we are sending smoke signals to each other and sending ships across the sea, with good tidings” – Charles Jeffrey
“Vivienne is the first fashion designer I remember remembering. When I was 16, I found the phone number for the Vivienne Westwood office and rang up, asking if I could come to the studio for a meeting about an internship. I went the next day. Attending fittings with Andreas taught me so much – he is unpredictable yet meticulous, a very good combination. And Vivienne has helped me to recognise the importance of craftsmanship and sustainability. Valuing the process of time serves both as a therapy and a protest against the voracious cycle of the fashion treadmill.”
“My favourite show is Spring/Summer 1994, Café Society. Kate Moss, topless, licking a Magnum ice cream, wearing the shortest skirt ever, with 18th-century make-up. What more could you want?”
“Growing up in Pakistan, I wasn’t really aware of fashion, let alone the idea I could choose it as a career. Vivienne and Andreas have helped me open up and explore ideas while also being unapologetic about my background. For me, studying fashion is going against the grain – Vivienne and Andreas’s work taught me to be myself and to believe in what you do if you feel passionately about it.”
“Vivienne Westwood represents the characterful unpacking and subversion of the British wardrobe – the art of dressing, of reappropriating content within garments, of reinterpreting that into fashion.”
“She paved the way for people like me – with courageous moves like opening a store with ‘SEX’ written out the front in giant pink letters. She helped open the door for provocative female designers” – Michaela Stark
A SAI TA
“What’s so special about Vivienne is her spirit, her attitude and the fact that she didn’t come from a traditional fashion-school education – you can see that she plays by her own rules. Vivienne taught me to do me, to speak my mind, to be brave and fearless. Education doesn’t only have to come from school – if anything, you must unlearn what education systems have taught and search wider.”
“It is, I’m sure, glaringly obvious how much Vivienne has influenced my practice as a designer. She paved the way for people like me – with courageous moves like opening a store with ‘SEX’ written out the front in giant pink letters. She helped open the door for provocative female designers.”
FLINT J MCDONALD
“It’s the appreciation of the past for me, how she translates that to the now. I’ve always been into history and historical garments – the construction and cut of those clothes is so interesting to dissect and play with. Westwood triumphs at that. Playing with British heritage as she and Andreas do is a real turn-on for me. And their appreciation of quality – I’m a sucker for a luscious fabric.”
EMMA CHOPOVA & LAURA LOWENA
“Westwood was a designer we always looked up to as kids. The combination of preferences, punk and historical dress has had a very strong impact on us and has shaped us so much as designers. The DIY attitude inspired us to get into fashion – to just try making stuff without the fear of everything [having to be] perfect.”
Hair: Eugene Souleiman at Streeters. Hair for portraits of Vivienne Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler, and Michaela Stark: Kei Terada at Julian Watson Agency using OUAI. Make-up: Janeen Witherspoon at MA and Talent. Models: B at Idal, Charley Dean Sayers at Premier Model Management, Nicola Dinan at Xdirectn, Tom Goddard at Contact, Kyra Kaur and Taira at Storm Management and Sakeema Peng Crook at Crumb. Casting: Nicola Kast at Webber. Casting assistant: Julia Gilmour. Set design: Amy Stickland at Webber. Digital tech: Nic Bezzina. Digital tech for portraits: Sam Hearn. Photographic assistants: Matt Moran, Bradley Polkinghorne, Sean Morrow and Jack Storer. Styling assistants: Isabella Kavanagh, Ioana Ivan and Cari Lima. Hair assistants: Claire Moore, Massimo Di Stefano and Carlo Avena. Hair assistant for portraits: Takumi Horiwaki. Make-up assistant: Elizabeth Owen Perry. Set-design assistants: Harry Stayt and Molly Marot. Set-design assistant for portraits: Lizzy Gilbert. Production: Artistry.
This article appears in the Autumn/Winter 2021 issue of AnOther Magazine which will be on sale internationally from 7 October 2021. Pre-order a copy here.