Last week, English designer Vivienne Westwood took the stage at a Guardian Live event to share her thoughts on the state of fashion. Known for her modern punk and new wave designs, Westwood is no stranger to controversy, and Wednesday evening's message was nothing if not against the status quo. While other brands are racing to design more or more collections and get their wares to stores in accordance with a rapid timetable, Westwood is urging consumers to shop less. She told the crowd: “Clothes should cost a lot more than they do," which is something we have heard her say before, along with the sentiments that we should be buying less but buying better and that high end clothing should be expensive. And Dame Westwood didn't stop there. She also took on the topic of emerging talent in design, specifically the modern day fashion student, saying: "There are a lot of people who are there just because that is what they want to be [fashion designers]. You can do anything and you can be what you want – that’s what fashion schools teach and it’s wrong.”
Speaking of controversy, Westwood is at the center of some unrelated legal drama, stemming from her self-titled memoir, which was released two weeks ago. According to author Paul Gorman, Westwood and her co-writer Ian Kelly lifted passages from the second edition of his 2001 book The Look: Adventures in Rock and Pop Fashion. The author has reportedly identified "close to 40" excerpts in Westwood's book that "bear too close a resemblance to text in The Look to let pass," and that while he is credited for some, he certain is not credited for all of them. According to a post on his website, Gorman says he is considering taking legal action to seek damages, an apology and the addition of missing credits.
Gorman makes clear that his issue is not with the designer herself but with the co-author and publisher of the book, which was released two weeks ago. "I respect Dame Vivienne Westwood's achievements; she has been a significant figure in shaping our collective visual identity. As someone who is driven to investigate and interpret visual culture, that is important to me; I dedicated a chapter and sections to Westwood's contribution to fashion with and without Malcolm McLaren in the 2001 and 2006 editions of The Look: Adventures In Rock & Pop Fashion. But she is ill-served by the sloppy new book Vivienne Westwood, recently published by Picador and written by actor/author Ian Kelly."
The Telegraph notes that the book has also come under fire for a number of other inaccuracies, "including misspelling of names including Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend, as well as incorrect dates and uncredited photographs." A potential libel has also been spotted by Private Eye, in the form of an incorrect statement that a former manager of Westwood's King's Road boutique is now dead and unsubstantiated claims made against him.
More to come …