The Political Designer: Dame Vivienne Westwood's ever-burning fire for politics matches her dedication to her clothing label. She has spoken out on numerous issues, including the 'drug of consumerism', nuclear disarmament and terrorism. Then there was that April 1989 Tatler cover, on which Westwood mockingly dressed as Margaret Thatcher.
"What is your life, what the hell are you doing? What do you know, what do you understand? You'll get such a sense of personal progress and you'll have an anchor in life; you'll never get blown away by anything if you start to understand the world you live in," reflects the designer.
What's New? At the Vivienne Westwood Red Label catwalk show in February 2012 the fashion desk witnessed the launch of a very important political piece: the Vivienne Westwood and Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF for the time-poor) T-shirt. The power-packed T goes on sale at Selfridges, Vivienne Westwood boutiques and the EJF Foundation shop on 4 May. The bespoke men and women's tops are made using a low-carbon supply chain and have already garnered a celeb following, including the likes of Naomi Campbell, Gillian Anderson, Roisin Murphy and The Vaccines, to name but a few.
"I'm in a position, I've got a voice because I've got a lot of credibility as a fashion designer, so I use my fashion as a medium. I think we're dangerously short of culture, I think this is another side of things. What you can really do is go to the Art Gallery[?€¦] You'll be thinking and you won't be consuming. Looking at great art is nothing to do with consumption, it's the opposite. It's what I call 'Get a Life'."
The Cause: Dame Westwood is campaigning to raise awareness of the plight of people who have been made homeless and driven from their land due to natural disasters, like flooding and storms. "What we're talking about regarding climate change refugees is total chaos, where natural disasters are more intense and more often. The world is giving us this warning of more horror to come", she says.The UN Refugee Agency recognises 10 million refugees but these new victims have no legal status or protection, according to the EFJ. Its No Place Like Home campaign is calling for urgent international action to provide them with protection.
Carbon Footprint? The ethically-made T-shirts have a 90% smaller carbon footprint than the averagely produced cotton T and are a clear indicator of how fashion can help vastly reduce climate change. "This T-shirt demonstrates the highest possible standards in an industry that is often criticised for falling short of the mark. Buying this t-shirt supports EJF's work protecting some of the world's poorest and most vulnerable people," comments EJF Executive Director Steve Trent.
"Why should people buy this T-shirt? Because they like it. There aren't many T-shirts that have anything interesting to say on them, are there? People will think you've got a brain, if you've got this," says Westwood. We couldn't have put it better ourselves.
The T-shirt is priced ??20, with 100% of the proceeds going to the EJF. www.viviennewestwood.co.uk www.ejfoundation.org/shop