Film Review: Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist

Lorna Tucker’s study of Vivienne Westwood is amiable enough but has its detractors, including no less than Westwood herself, who denounced the film on Twitter for not featuring enough of her extensive environmental and related activism.

Tucker followed Westwood around for some years and captures her subject in sometimes grumpy moods. She’s first seen in an armchair and virtually dismissing her colourful past, while refusing to make eye contact with the camera. She and Tucker then explore her youth in some detail by way of old photos and file footage. We learn a little of Westwood’s fun times during those supposedly ‘swinging ‘60s’ and her first husband Derek Westwood, who was evidently “a great dancer”.

Then we just have to get into the 1970s and her involvement with Malcolm McLaren and the whole British punk thing, and she’s reluctant to elaborate about any of it. The Sex Pistols? “No, can’t be bothered with them,” she gripes, which is probably why we see snapshots of Johnny Rotten/John Lydon on stage with the boys, but don’t hear their legendary Anarchy in the U.K..

She’s understandably hard on the late McLaren too, as are her 50-something sons Ben (Derek’s lad) and Joseph (the kid Westwood had with McLaren). We see images of McLaren lying on her bed and ignoring the children, and hear of how they opened the shop that eventually became Sex and was the go-to spot for aspiring punks. And, of course, we’re also told about how he tried to ruin her life and destroy her professionally, even sabotaging potential work with Giorgio Armani.

She’s much happier with her third husband, the significantly younger Andreas Kronthaler. He chats bitchily and swans about like a proper fashion icon, while Westwood frets like a foul-mouthed grandma about what some are calling ‘brand integrity’, a buzz term she would loathe.

And yes, there is a little activism in there…

WESTWOOD: PUNK, ICON, ACTIVIST is in cinemas now

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