Vivienne Westwood


Ms. Westwood is known for her eccentric punk style and at the age of 71, she continues to remain a dominate force in her genre of design and a staple in runway as a whole. Ms. Westwood is a spokeswoman for the environmental group Climate Revolution. You can read her thoughts on that subject at her blog, but here are excerpts from a conversation with Eric Wilson and Ms. Westwood about punk, and continuing to push buttons:


We’re seeing a lot of punk on the runways this season. What do you think?


I don’t follow fashion. I really don’t. I’ve never been interested in it. I think punk has entered into the iconography of fashion. In 1970 or 1969, the shop we have, Worlds End at 430 Kings Road, that was Mr Freedom. I went in there and bought a pair of tight leopard-printed velvet trousers. I had never seen anything like it. It was the most amazing thing. Punk says rebellion. Now every child has seen this.

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Can fashion still provoke?


Probably not. There’s such a communication of stylists. They weren’t very important once. The general public didn’t even know about them. They were paid very badly and worked for two weeks getting a shoot together and got a quarter of what the hair person got. Fashion has become so whatever. I don’t think there are any stones left to un turn.

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“Punk: Chaos to Couture” is the subject of the next Costume Institute exhibition. What do you think of punk as a subject for a major museum exhibition?


I’ll tell you the truth, not that it is a very good idea to tell the truth about things, but I was very cross with the Metropolitan Museum for not taking my retrospective. [An exhibition about Ms. Westwood was at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 2004.] I think it’s ridiculous. I’m also rather bored with American journalists. Every time punk comes up, they think of me as a kind of trophy. ‘Oh, we know Vivienne, she’s great.’ And then you hear nothing from them in between. You know, America is an isolated territory, with all those editors who think they are so powerful. Mostly, I think they are rubbish. And I don’t like fashion magazines either. Someone asked me the other day, if I really was a world controller, what is the first thing I would do. I would stop advertising.

[A lengthy aside about Climate Revolution.]

The reason why I am proud of my part in the punk movement is that I think it really did implant a message that was already there. The hippies told it to me, but punk made it something cool for people to stand up for, which is that we do not believe government, that we are against government.

Excerpt taken and edited from

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Photos borrowed from


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