Queen Vivienne owns the chamber in Union

From anarchist to Dame, has Vivienne Westwood’s hunger for rebellion been tamed?


Entering the chamber, fashion revolutionaire, teacher, activist, vegetarian, Dame, mum and Derby’s biggest diva, struts past the humbled audience in her iconic lethal heels.

“Why don’t you sit down somewhere else and come back later. It’s strange you sitting there”, she tells the unfortunate speaker’s officer who had the misfortune of taking a seat next to the straight talking goddess.

This set the tone for her next hour of frank talking – aimed as it was at recruiting more “freedom fighters” needed imminently to stop the “destruction of our earth.”

I own this stage

Poor old speaker’s officer

So what’s changed since her punk days?

“They weren’t at all political, they just liked jumping about and pogoing and looked absolutely great.”

Punk was a revolution: although she says it wasn’t political, it was more than just a fashion and music trend. The movement questioned the status quo and held two fingers up at the government. It’s probably fair to say the mother of punk, now 74, holds more than two fingers up at the government, or “criminals” as she calls them, having recently driven a tank to David Cameron’s country home to protest against Fracking.

Campaigning for climate change and human rights dominates her life, her new baby being the NGO she founded, ‘Climate Revolution’. Before the talk she told the Tab, “I shan’t talk about fashion”, which seemed to confuse a chamber who’d almost definitely come to see the two time British Fashion of the Year winner.

Vivienne whole-heartedly believes our over-consumption, misuse of fossil fuels and capitalism is racing us to Armageddon. Along with numerous talks and interviews, Vivienne rants about the fatal state of our world on weekly podcasts, of course wearing fabulously relevant costumes.

‘She’s a sell-out’, ‘She’s a hypocrite; she endorses consumerism’ are just a few criticisms she’s had levelled at her.

Vivienne kindly agrees to take some pictures with die-hard fans

Vivienne kindly agrees to take some pictures with die-hard fans

Erratic Vivienne isn’t scared to change her opinion: once putting safety pins through the Queen’s eyes in her ironic ‘God save the Queen’ T shirts, she now declares a love for Liz and Charles (they’re ok because they’re above the evil establishment).

Still, in true Westwood style, when visiting Buckingham palace she avoided wearing knickers under her gaping skirt, leading to an 18+ Monroesque photograph.

“I was not trying to make any statement, except to display to people my wonderful skirt. Because I don’t see the need to wear knickers with certain things”.

This may be true but the ‘I don’t give a s**t’ attitude became more obvious when she returned to Buckingham palace, for the second time, without pants.

“You have a more interesting life if you wear impressive clothes”

“You have a more interesting life if you wear impressive clothes”

It’s rare to find such a high public figure such as Vivienne, who doesn’t self-censor and isn’t embarrassed to speak out about their strong opinions to the extent she does.

Modest as ever, she states “there’s lots of things in my head I think you’ll be interested by.” Her sense of rebellion remains, and boy does she have much to fight for. She isn’t ‘fur coat, no knickers’( well maybe occasionally). She calls for no fracking, the destruction of capitalism, the transparency of governments, monopolies and central banks.

She practices what she preaches, even asking us for tap water as she didn’t want to drink the more environmentally damaging bottled water she was being given. She becomes frustrated with people lacking the fire of activism; “they don’t seem to care about anything, they don’t seem to care about people worse off than themselves either and I find that really peculiar, I don’t know how you get through to people.”

She’s asking for us to demonstrate and protest more, believing us Cambridge students must “pay for our good fortune by trying to make the world a better place”, rather than becoming a malignant banker or politician, or just simply being complacent.

Just think, while you sit at your laptop eating your cornflakes, Vivienne is somewhere shoving a placard up an MP’s arse.