Review / ‘Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist’ (M) ** and a half

THIS documentary is about the life and work of a woman who followed her own star, did her own thing, got rich and became a Dame of the British Empire.

The clothes she designs, builds and sells to like-minded folk (mostly young and dissatisfied with social attitudes toward them) may be original and carry her label, but watching the processes of building and showing them to potential customers, I had a strong feeling of looking at garments rescued from what op-shops send to the garbage dump. People wearing Westwood garments know why. The rest of the world wonders why.

“Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist” is filmmaker Lorna Tucker’s first feature. I quote a trivia note from the IMDb page about it: “The documentary was denounced by Vivienne Westwood via her Twitter, before it even premiered at Sundance: Lorna Tucker asked to film Vivienne’s activism and followed her around for a couple of years, but there’s not even five minutes activism in the film, instead there’s lots of old-fashioned footage which is free and available online. It’s a shame because the film is mediocre, and Vivienne and Andreas (CEO of the Westwood company) are not.”

Fashion is a fickle jade that all species of media employ people to play with, promote and turn into trends for sale to gullible consumers. The film pays scant attention to Westwood’s status as an icon for individualism and life as an activist. That’s regrettable because she is without doubt a remarkable personality who’s become wealthy by following her own path. Would you like to be her chum?

At Palace Electric and Dendy

 

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