A dame, an icon and, of course, a designer, Vivienne Westwood has been making clothes – against her will, if you hear her tell it – for nearly 40 years. Here, she discusses husband Andreas Kronthaler, culture and the fight against climate change – some of her favourite things.
On Andreas “Andreas is the most talented person I have ever worked with. He won’t speak much in the studio because he just sees and knows. When you do get him to communicate, he expresses himself in the most lively language. It’s wonderful to work with him. It’s very important to have the right people helping; otherwise it can be very frustrating. Talents are hard to come by. Good assistants are almost as hard to find as good designers. Andreas comes from a particular place. We can’t start the collection together because what I suggest wouldn’t be right. We start separately and then come together.”
On fashion “For 15 years, I haven’t wanted to do fashion. I thought I should do it because I was good at it and felt a kind of duty. It has always been, ‘I’ll just finish this pair of trousers and then I can read my book.’ I also carried on because I thought it would help me understand how creativity can cut through the corporate world. The good thing about fashion is that if you have an opinion, people will listen to you because you are well known. I do enjoy it now but it’s an extremely hard job. You can’t stop. There are 1,000 decisions in every garment.”
On designing “I am very literary, I always have been. I have to have a story, know the motivation of a collection. I am good with colour. I try to start without colour and then add to it. I think I am quite English when it comes to colour. It’s like our weather – I like to build an atmosphere. I love to throw something away, eliminate things. It feels good. Like you might see a square of fabric and it feels right but doesn’t work when you see the whole thing.”
Text: Lauren Cochrane
Originally appeared in The 30th Birthday Issue, Pre-Fall 2010.