Monday, July 2, 2018


Fashion-wise, designer Vivienne Westwood is the real deal. The intriguing story of her life and work is told in the frisky documentary Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist, directed by former model-turned-filmmaker Lorna Tucker.

The movie not only celebrates Westwood's revolutionary clothes, but her rebel spirit as well — along with her fascinating career.

While she started out making confrontational stage clothes for the Sex Pistols, Westwood nurtured her craft and her fashion identity over the next four-plus decades, going on to win Britain's prestigious Designer of the Year award for two years in a row.

Westwood: then
Westwood may not have invented punk (as one interviewee claims), but she certainly dressed it.

A working-class English girl who couldn't afford to go to art school, she ditched an early marriage that was too confining, and, with two young sons to support, starting selling hand-made clothing out of the back of a record shop on King's Road in London.

Her partner (business and otherwise) in this venture was provocateur Malcolm McLaren, who would go on to manage the New York Dolls and the Sex Pistols.

Westwood: now
They believed in outrageous clothing and behavior, "confronting society" to initiate social change. (In one ironic clip, we see a Westwood stage outfit from this era, a torn and grimy T-shirt with a graphic political message, handled with great delicacy by a curator in white gloves from the Victoria and Albert Museum.)

As Westwood says, "Everything I design has to have a story."

When Westwood saw her impudent designs and spiky haircuts being copied on the runways in Milan and New York, she realized that punk was over as a cultural moment.

She decided that if anyone was going to succeed with her distinctive clothing style it was going to be herself, and entered the fashion business on her own terms.

Today, her smart mix of fabrics, textures and patterns, and a new androgynous line to be worn by any and all genders, are right on point with the times. Westwood is proof that fashion and political audacity have no age limit.
(Read more in this week's Good Times)

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