Factory 2017 Vivienne Westwood outlet store online

Dame Vivienne Westwood Outlet: ‘Boris Johnson has never had an altruistic thought. He’s completely destructive.’

Since her first famous boutique, Dame Vivienne Westwood has made it her mission to tear down, well, everything! Now, with her label in the care of her husband, punk’s grande dame has a plan not to disrupt but fix our ailing climate

Dame Vivienne Westwood doesn’t want to talk about fashion. “That’s for Andreas,” she says in her small, resolute voice, which is occasionally flattened by a Derbyshire vowel or two. “Andreas and I work together and he supports everything I do.” She gesticulates at her husband of almost 30 years, who is sitting next to her on the sofa of the Hackney studio where the pair just had their picture taken. Hairy and broad, at least double Westwood’s size and nearly 25 years her junior, Andreas Kronthaler seems a bit distant – his bright blue eyes are determined to look anywhere but at her – which I can only assume is because she’s doing most of the talking. “I’m going to talk and talk and talk, I’m afraid,” she continues. “Then I can stop, because I want to talk about the mission.”

Kronthaler has been the sole creative director of the Vivienne Westwood fashion line since 2016. He met Westwood in his native Austria in 1988, at the Vienna School Of Applied Arts where she was his teacher. His wife, who celebrated her 80th birthday in April, has recently taken on the impending climate crisis as her pet project, a cause she considers to be much more important than the business of creating dresses, shoes and suits.

“I know how to save the world from climate change,” she tells me as we sit. “I’m the only person with a plan.” Looking me square in the eye, her bird-like hand, the colour of fresh toile, is pointing. “One of my slogans is, ‘Seven billion people don’t know.’” Westwood loves a slogan. “What don’t they know? They don’t know shit. That’s what they don’t know.”

Andreas and Vivienne wear Andreas Kronthaler For Vivienne Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler For Vivienne Westwood X Gina....

Andreas and Vivienne wear Andreas Kronthaler For Vivienne Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler For Vivienne Westwood X Gina. viviennewestwood.com

 Wayne Hanson

Westwood is a born agitator. Where Tom Ford is known for selling his polished brand of hyper-smut and Alessandro Michele is beloved for his magpie-esque eclecticism, Westwood is world-renowned for being a rebel. Alongside her former partner Malcolm McLaren (prior to Kronthaler and following her first marriage to Derek Westwood) the designer became one of the early architects of the punk movement, selling make-do-and-mend clothing with an aggro edge from the pair’s shop, Sex, on London’s King’s Road. Latterly, Westwood’s fashion collections have helped perpetuate that rebellious spirit. When designers such as Calvin Klein and Donna Karan went global in the minimalism-obsessed 1990s by selling satin slip dresses and straight-leg blue jeans, Westwood steamed in an entirely different direction, sending models down her runways in 17th- and 18th-century-inspired corsets and crinolines, cut with a couturier’s sensibility.

Similarly, Westwood’s menswear collections have long captured the imaginations, wardrobes and – importantly – wallets of a more creative breed of consumer. Sure, the designer’s orb-embroidered “out-out” shirts are beloved by boozy lads in provincial towns the UK over, but the mainline offerings that Westwood produces with Kronthaler continue to be infused with a buccaneering spirit entirely their own. There are pirate boots, asymmetric suits, buffalo hats, kilts. Westwood was putting men in dresses long before it was trendy and she has famous fans in all corners of the celeb stratosphere, including Sir Ian McKellen (“I always remember when Ian told me that he’d lost five pairs of the hearing aids we both use,” she says, laughing. “He wondered how I’d managed not to lose any of mine!”), George Clooney, Michael B Jordan and Harry Styles, to name a few.

But, like I said, Westwood doesn’t want to talk about fashion, which is fair enough, given she’s being awarded GQ’s Game Changer award for her work in the fight against climate change, and that’s what we’re here to discuss. “What we need to do is make the public supportive of my plan, of my website,” she tells me. “If we get people to go to the website then the message would spread and the interest would increase. It would make an impression. It would get through to people, because currently there’s no opposition [to the anti-ecological message being peddled by the government]. No opposition at all.”

Andreas and Vivienne wear Andreas Kronthaler For Vivienne Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler For Vivienne Westwood X Gina....

Andreas and Vivienne wear Andreas Kronthaler For Vivienne Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler For Vivienne Westwood X Gina. viviennewestwood.com

 Wayne Hanson

The website Westwood is talking about is climaterevolution.co.uk. Established by the designer as a kind of digital diary – a multi-platform blog, for want of a better term – which charts the extent of the designer’s environmental activism alongside her day-to-day thoughts on climate change. There’s a section called “The Big Picture” that features the videos and pictures she posted on Instagram during the multiple lockdowns (my suggestion that this makes Westwood something of an influencer is duly ignored), as well as her slogans, artworks and general musings (one of the most recent posts features a picture in which her face is covered with frosting from her friend Julian Assange’s 50th birthday cake) and, perhaps most importantly, there’s a section dedicated entirely to her climate change manifesto.

A 12-page e-book furnished with collages, drawings and texts, the key message of the manifesto, as Westwood explains, leaning toward me conspiratorially, is a simple one. “The one thing that would truly halt pollution is to stop war. Don’t buy a bomb. All arms are sold under the pretence that they’re being sold for defence, but it’s just a complete and utter lie.”

And, yes, you could nitpick here; you could point out that arms manufacturers are probably fairly upfront about the fact their products are designed to go boom or that being eco-friendly is never really their USP. But that would miss the bigger point: Westwood is on a mission and she’s nothing if not ambitious. She’d like to halt war: “If we can stop war, that would be popular. It won’t be easy, but we need to find a way to close down the arms factories.” And climate change: “All our efforts must go into halting climate change.” And scrapping cars... sort of: “The only way we can survive is not to go back to normal, to not buy bombs but also to not buy electric cars. Keep your own car and, if possible, don’t use it. If you have to use it and it breaks down, then you buy an electric car, if you absolutely have to.”

A key element of Westwood’s manifesto is the “No Man’s Land” economy, her thesis being that if no one actually owns land then no one will be able to “rape” the earth. Production will be limited, crop farming (Westwood and Kronthaler are staunch vegetarians) would be promoted over heavy industry, the housing crisis would be solved and, hey presto, utopia. “Land cannot be owned; no one can own land; land belongs to no one,” Westwood says. “If you look at my manifesto, I think there needs to be an official body, independent of the government, that can assess the cost of land and figure out whether they can use it or not, because it affects the livelihoods of, say, aboriginal people who have lived on it for thousands of years.” She adds: “They don’t want to move, thank you very much, and then you’re not allowed to take that land away from them. Simple.”


Interviewing Vivienne Westwood is like listening to four Ted Talks at once. During our hour-and-a-half together, a period for which I’ve been asked to interview Westwood and Kronthaler concurrently, I manage to ask a grand total of three questions. Much in the way that the clothes on her runways take on lives of their own – bursting with ideas, techniques and influences – Westwood’s brain is a hot pan full of corn, popping out thought-kernels at random. “Every world leader is anti-people,” she tells me at one point, in a sudden pivot. “I call them devils. Whether he knows it or not, Boris Johnson has never, ever had an altruistic thought in his mind. He’s always worked out of self-interest. He’s completely destructive. Completely. He’s a killer and that is my definition of the devil. I’ve written a poem about it.”

‘THE HIGH STREET IS THE PROBLEM. ONLY COUTURE IS SUSTAINABLE’

One of the questions I’m determined to ask is something I’ve heard several of my journalist friends posit – usually behind their hands on her front row rather than to her face – and it’s one I imagine Westwood won’t be keen to tackle. How, I ask, can it be possible to justify creating clothes – all be they beautiful, extravagant, magical clothes – when the fashion industry is the second-largest polluter in the world? “We have to move to a craft-based industry,” Westwood says without pause. “What we’ve got to stop is all unnecessary production. We do not need bombs. Not everybody needs a car either. You can definitely manage with a bicycle or walk. I’m not saying get a horse and cart, either – that’s probably just as polluting, for all I know – but my target is war, because it’s such a big item. We just have to stop war, stop pollution.”

And fashion? I ask again. “Fashion is something we truly need, unless you think we should go around naked – we’re quite near to that at the moment, with vests and all that stuff. I think it’s incredibly important to maintain the fashion skills that we still have.” She continues: “The high street is the problem. All that mass production is just about cheap labour and death. Couture is the only sustainable fashion – meaning you can’t get any more sustainable than couture. My answer is to buy less, choose well, make it last. And that’s the best thing for the ecology at the moment.”

Image may contain Dance Pose Leisure Activities Human Person Clothing Apparel Evening Dress Fashion Gown and Robe

Andreas and Vivienne wear Andreas Kronthaler For Vivienne Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler For Vivienne Westwood X Gina. viviennewestwood.com

 Wayne Hanson

The truth is that Westwood’s ready-to-wear clothes are as far from fast fashion and as close to couture – the practice of making a garment entirely by hand to fit one specific body – as it’s possible to get, the wild and wonderful looks both she and Kronthaler wore for this GQ Men Of The Year shoot being a case in point. From the stripped-back Miss Havisham-style couture wedding dress, finished with an exposed and intricately embroidered crinoline, which the designer wore for her solo shot, to the towering stilettos and immaculately tailored double-breasted suits with oversized lapels worn by her husband, these are clothes that are designed not only to be worn over and over again, in as many whacky iterations as possible, but also to be treasured. And when the designers themselves take such intense pleasure from not only creating them but wearing them too, it’s difficult not to be won over by the message.

“It’s the quality of the design that makes people choose it. It’s quality. Buy less, make it last. If you really like it, you’ll want to keep wearing it,” says Westwood. Kronthaler, who seems a little relieved that the topic of conversation has rolled into his wheelhouse, is more erect. His soft voice, which seems appropriately at odds with the Viking-esque frame from which it emits, has a singsong quality. “With the Vivienne Westwood line, we’re very careful with the fabrics. We try to source everything as near as possible to us, using up deadstock and reusing things that were done before. All kind of things.” He pauses. “But more and more now I’m of the opinion that if your intentions are pure then you can do everything. It’s essentially consumption that’s the main problem. We make too much. We make so much food that we throw half of it away and clothes are the same.”

Image may contain Human Person and Finger

Andreas and Vivienne wear Andreas Kronthaler For Vivienne Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler For Vivienne Westwood X Gina. viviennewestwood.com

 Wayne Hanson

As our time together draws to a close it strikes me that, for Westwood, her fight against climate change is just another opportunity for her to express her deep-seated rebellious nature. She clearly, truly believes everything she says and is both dedicated and determined to her cause, but she also realises that fashion is, by its nature, at odds with what she hopes to achieve. Which is where Kronthaler steps in. By allowing him total creative control of the brand she worked so hard to build, she is free to fight the good fight against a crisis that will impact us all in its most horrifying iterations long after she’s gone. It’s a shrewd move and one I suddenly find myself having a deep sense of admiration for. It’s also a point that Westwood addresses naturally, without me even having to ask. “Andreas is doing a great, great job,” she says. “He gets me dressed, for this shoot too. I don’t have to worry about any of that, because I want to use every second I can to spread my message, to fight climate change.” A pause. “He’s helping me in every possible way.”

Image may contain Clothing Apparel Dress Human Person Suit Coat Overcoat Dance Pose Leisure Activities and Sleeve

Andreas and Vivienne wear Andreas Kronthaler For Vivienne Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler For Vivienne Westwood X Gina. viviennewestwood.com

 Wayne Hanson