Northumbria University, UK
Everything is connected: the influences and inspirations of global icon and radical fashion philosopher, Vivienne Westwood
Fashion’s foremost thinker, Vivienne Westwood believes the foundation of a meaningful and productive life lies in the development of personal identity via the process of intellectual evolution. This, she believes, can be found through the exploration of three key areas: Environment and Responsibility. Politics and Justice. Thoughts and Culture. The intention of this paper is to distil the key influences in Westwood’s psyche and contextualise them in order to gain a greater understanding of her design signature. Secondary data is deployed in the process but primarily research is based on experience, interactions and engagement in dialogue with Vivienne Westwood over a 30 year period. In depth discussion on the themes within this paper were undertaken with Westwood on 19th June 2018. Analysis of Westwood’s company library and attendance at Westwood’s staff presentation of The Grapes of Wrath on 5th November 2013, also inform this. In short, these are new contributions to the analysis of Westwood’s work.
As a self-confessed activist and advocate of cultural appreciation, Vivienne Westwood believes art links the past, present and the future. She discourages consumerism, acutely aware that this pronouncement is alien to standard business practice. The downsizing of her company – still privately owned – is an ongoing struggle with Westwood’s ‘buy less, choose well, make it last’ mantra in contradiction to the aims of her management. An advocate of reading books rather than scanning social media, make do and mend rather than mass consumption, and history rather than modernism, her unique – and often radical – philosophy has become a rallying cry for a new generation of fashion followers.
Analysing and outlining the core inspirations and influences in Vivienne Westwood’s arsenal – from Aldous Huxley to The Wallace Collection – the aim is also to investigate these in a fashion context, dissecting how such disparate influences can be applied and translated in sartorial form. In Westwood’s own words ‘Everything is Connected.’