Everyone knows it: Vivienne Westwood is a goddess. But how did she transcend her mortal status? Aside from her visionary, arresting designs, what blows our minds about Westwood is her eternal youth. It’s not just her trendiness and her hot hubby. It’s her unwavering progressiveness. It’s her ability to see our world a little differently than most people, to hold on to some sort of child-like wonder over her surroundings. It’s her belief in the possibility of a different world, of a better world.
In keeping with her own intellectual curiosity and precociousness, Westwood celebrates Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ in her recently published diary entries, even borrowing Alice’s voice for her Manifesto; she didn’t want to come across as bossy and what better mouthpiece than literature’s favourite blonde haired sprite?
Westwood places great value on the intellectual curiosity of youth: ‘I think little children of Alice’s age, especially girls, have something special about them – they’re so open to ideas and so curious about things. They’re the most delightful people to talk to and get involved with… I do find, like Carroll did, that when children reach a certain age…they start to get a bit boring… They’re not looking at the world or trying to be unconventional or willing to stick their necks out in any way.’
It feels like this could be the heart of Westwood’s unique perspective on life and her willingness to evolve and take risks: the designer’s knack for both marvelling at as well as communicating the mysteries and beauty she sees in her environment and in people through her work. Westwood lays down her impressions eloquently, the entries read a little like modernist prose (think ‘A Movable Feast’), the language is clear and fluid. We understand how grounded in history Westwood’s work is, from Victorian to Elizabethan to hunter-gatherer and her great love of nature, especially the stunning regions in Southern France.
Maybe what really comes across is Westwood’s desire to share her enlightenment with the rest of us. Her diaries serve as an unapologetic call to arms: ‘I call the diaries Get a Life as that’s how I feel: you’ve got to get involved, speak out and take action.’ Hear, hear for Dame Westwood!