Vivienne Westwood Red Label: Runway - London Fashion Week SS15

Famed for her forthright opinions and unapologetic stances, Dame Vivienne Westwood has once again made waves by very publicly backing Scottish independence ahead of the referendum this week. An iconoclast to the core, she did it in the most striking way possible, too – by pinning ‘yes’ badges to her models and emerging herself wrapped in a Scottish flag after her London Fashion Week show on Sunday.

It’s a surprising call to arms from a designer so intertwined with iconic Brit style – instrumental in creating punk (perhaps the most influential Brit fashion movement of all), and famous for appropriating the Union Jack flag throughout her collections since she began designing with Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren back in the 1970s. Scottish tartan has long since been another signature, with her own pattern and clan (the Westwood MacAndreas) even being officially registered by Scotland. But regardless, the 73-year-old designer is English to the core – in fact, one of the most successful diffusion lines from her main label is even called Anglomania – a fitting name for a brand born of a Derbyshire girl.

And yet the renegade told reporters this week that she ‘hates England’, labelling it ‘completely ruined’. Using the runway as her soap box, Vivienne Westwood’s pro-independence views came in the form of badges – but also notes on every seat in the venue. “I am so excited. Fingers crossed they will win. Because if they do it could be the turning point towards a better world. They could lead by example,” her manifesto read.

It’s hardly the first time Westwood has used fashion as a platform for a wider message – she’s protested against climate change and fracking, supported Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and for years printed every single one of her adverts with the phrase ‘Leonard Peltier is innocent’; joining Amnesty International in backing the freeing of the Native American activist from his incarceration in Florida.

Regardless of feelings on Scottish independence, the fact that Westwood has continued to keep fashion political is something to be revered. She continues to create fashion that stands for something and that has a voice. Fashion that makes you ask questions and fights against the system. Well, once a punk, always a punk…


Image: Getty