Monday, November 05, 2007

Occasionally the fashion blogs report Vivienne Westwood as having made some kind of controversial statement. In September a Telegraph interview with Lesley Thomas reported her as saying "There's this idea that somehow you've got to keep changing things, and as often as possible. Maybe if people just decided not to buy anything for a while, they'd get a chance to think about what they wanted; what they really liked." This seems less a controversial statement and more an accurate judgement of consumerism. The problem that she's perceiving isn't specifically at the top of the industry, it's more prevalent on the high street in outlets like Zara and Topshop, which constantly roll out new stock. You can't go into a store, take a look and return a week later to purchase a piece of clothing after thinking about it because it's likely that the garment won't be there anymore. Westwood is identifying a problem with the way we have to shop rather than making a generalised statement.

Then in another Telegraph article by Roya Nikkhah, Westwood tells us that fashion magazines propagate racism because they use less black models than they should. While Jo Elvin makes the absurd claim that "There are fewer black women who are big enough stars to sell Glamour" (Hi Jo, I'd like to suggest Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell, Alek Wek, Ajuma Nasenyana or Yasmin Warsame) Michael Roberts who is the fashion director of Vanity Fair supports Vivienne Westwood's comments.

On the 28th October PETA stated that Vivienne Westwood was the latest designer to go fur free. I was surprised that she was still using fur, it seems a little backward to stop using fur in 2007 when all of the fashion houses have had ample opportunity to phase it out in a fashionable way over the last 20 years.

Basically there doesn't seem to be any controversy here, perhaps the controversy is that someone as political as Vivienne Westwood still using fur as an acceptable material. Ultimately she has been a designer for a long time, certainly enough time to make factual statements about the fashion industry without dressing them up in polite terms. It is a shame that the only press that seems to be giving her coverage is the Telegraph, she deserves a broader audience, if her statements seem obvious it's worth remembering that most of them deserve a level of societal focus that they are not receiving. We should not be wearing fur, there should be more black models in and on the front covers of our fashion magazines, we should buy less clothes but more that we love.

I leave you with the beautiful Ajuma Nasenyana, the only photo of her that I could find and use from google image search.

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