Dame Vivienne Westwood has become something of a national treasure, that's for sure. At her recent A/W 12 show, the most eclectic bunch we've seen at London Fashion Week turned up to pay homage and worship at the altar of Viv. The likes of Heston Blumenthal, Sadie Frost, Pete Burns and Rita Ora all showed up in their finery and clambered backstage to share a few words with the Dame. Her popularity is all encompassing and her magnetic personality quite something to behold.
She represents classic British eccentricity and is indisputably a gem in the crown of the British fashion industry. That is why she might have put a few noses out of place when she adamantly announced that us Brits have never dressed so badly. Ever. Hearing, "People have never looked so ugly as they do today regarding their dress" isn't exactly music to our ears now is it? Speaking to the barrage of journalists who surrounded her after the show she declared, "We are all sucking up stuff, we have been trained to be consumers and we are all consuming far too much. I'm a fashion designer and people think 'what do I know?' but I'm talking about all this disposable crap. So I'm saying buy less, choose well, make it last." Quite a statement from the Matriarch of London Fashion Week.
Vivienne has never shied away from controversy and laughs in the face of conventialism. Her outbursts are designed for impact; anarchy in the UK and all that. She obviously wanted to make an impression by her sentiment that we all dress like slobs, but I don't think I would alone in thinking she isn't entirely incorrect. While I don't agree that we have ever dressed this badly (I've seen Blackadder re-runs and those volumous Medieval pantaloons aren't pretty), I do feel we glorify fast fashion far too much. As consumers we are regularly told that more is more. The fact you can now buy five t-shirts for under a tenner in Primark is heralded as some sort of modern breakthrough for society. Yes they are cheap but will they enrich your life as much as we are lead to believe? Probably not.
I don't think you necessarily have to spend more to get better quality; you just have to spend less frequently. Investing in better quality pieces which will last is beneficial all round- for your wardrobe space, for the environment and for your style. Yes you might be made up with that bargain of a maxi-skirt you found in Topshop but seeing every other girl wearing it when you walk down the street will quickly knock the smile off your face.
Fashion shouldn't be homogenous; it should be exciting and unique and express your individuality. People can take an interest in fashion without feeling the need to blow their wage on disposable threads on the High Street every weekend. In the short time you get on this planet, why would you want to spend it looking like everyone else?
I'm with the Dame on this one.