(by Vivienne Westwood and Ian Kelly)
It is no secret that, ever since I read “From A to Biba” and “Quant by Quant”, there has been a special place in my daydreams for an assuredly idealised and somewhat chronologically inaccurate 1970s King’s Road, London. I’ve often imagined bobbing into Biba for some knee-boots and popping into Mary Quant for some pop-art makeup*. But until I read this bio/auto-bio, I never, but never, envisaged wandering into Dame Vivienne’s “Worlds End” store on that same blue-skyed Saturday morning. Perhaps because it is in such a different world altogether from the non-challenging swinging London I have always imagined. I really didn’t know that it (and its predecessors, “SEX” for one had even existed. Punk had shops? Who knew?). “Vivienne Westwood” by the woman herself and a journalist who doesn’t seem to have any real interest in fashion has set me right. The book is not great literature – the writing is clunky and not fully synthesised – Westwood’s lengthy quotes are strung together with some breathless praise (and McLaren bashing). I could have done with more about the process of design and more details about the actual — err — clothes, but if you are at all interested in fashion, twentieth-century London, punk or that sort of thing, this is a must-read. (But skip the last rather preachy couple of chapters). Mrs Westwood has apparently never suffered from a moment’s self-doubt or uncertainty about her own talent or peerless moral goodness which makes for an invigorating read but at times some rather dodgy product and an inconsistent human.
My mother was an exacting dressmaker. Although she has been embroidering angels’ robes while watching previously unseen episodes of “The House of Eliot” for about six months, I can hear her shouting from here about this “tailored’ Metropole suit from the Westwood Label. Not that you need it, but I have helpfully pointed out the worst bits.
There’s just something wrong with them.
They look wonderful….
Until an actual woman puts them on….
But there are the shoes…..perfect.
*(In fact I have a genuine Quant lipstick – silver white with the palest pink wash, now also tinged with green from age. Although it came from David Jones, Rundle Mall and wasn’t sold to me by a Twiggy look-alike, I can’t throw it out).