Creative inspiration from the world of fashion
Creative Creatures – Vivienne Westwood
Dame Vivienne Westwood, the fashion designer, was born in 1941. In 1965, she met and moved in with Malcolm McLaren who would become the future manager of the iconic British band, the Sex Pistols. Together, they began a career in fashion, designing all things weird and wonderful, and basing most of their unique ideas on McLaren’s revolutionary view of the world. Their clothing range included ripped T-shirts, adorned with anti-establishment slogans and bondage trousers inspired by sadomasochism. The names of their boutique were variously Too Fast To Live, Too Young To Die, Sex, Seditionaries. They became a mecca for the young, the rebellious and the fashionable.
In 1989, in the April Fools edition of the Tatler magazine, Westwood appeared on the front cover. She was impersonating Margaret Thatcher and wearing a suit that the Iron Lady had ordered from Aquascutum but that had been subsequently cancelled. This was then blown up poster size and shown across London on billboards during Fashion Week. A few days later, the magazine’s editor, Emma Soames, was unceremoniously sacked. Years later, Westwood would label Thatcher a “hypocrite”, claiming she had done “real damage” to the world.
In 2012, she was invited to take part in the London Paralympics closing ceremony and succeeded in launching her campaign to address climate change (Climate Revolution) in spectacular fashion. Having managed to evade any of the dress rehearsals, the famous designer made her grand entrance, when dressed as an eco-warrior on top of her float. She unleashed a huge black and white banner with the words “CLIMATE REVOLUTION” written across it. She subsequently told Dazed magazine that “the climate revolution is the ultimate revolution; if we don’t win that, there won’t be many of us left.”
These three snippets demonstrate the important link between creativity and being A REBEL WITH A CAUSE. There are three lessons to learn:
- If the subject about which you are being creative has no meaning, relevance or importance in the world at large, then a bit of creativity is not really going to make too much of a difference. The foundation for Westwood’s creative genius has always been cultural phenomenon that are extremely significant in the minds of a portion of the population. Climate change, the environment, the struggle against the establishment are all BIG ISSUES.
- You must fervently believe in the importance of these societal issues and be prepared to stand your ground in support and defence of them. They need to be firmly engrained in your DNA and your values set. Without this belief, you are unlikely to move to the next level.
- This next level is then having the confidence and bravery to communicate your views to the outside world. Westwood did not seem to care what others thought of her when she performed either the Tatler or the London 2012 stunts because her courage was born out of the belief that she was doing the right thing and that she had a duty to the world to publicise this.
But fundamentally, if you want to be a revolutionary, a subversive, a pioneer, then you need an idea and that idea must be rooted in something that is culturally important. According to Westwood, “Culture gives you an anchor, roots – and from that you build your vision”.
Final point. You don’t have to be Vivienne Westwood and you don’t have to be passionate about a BIG cause. A small cause is absolutely fine too, as long as you really believe that it plays an important role in the life of your customer and that it is worth fighting for. This will help your creative juices flow non-stop.