SFF 2018: Review – Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist

Westwood tells the story of Vivienne Westwood, the designer that exploded with punk and had an important hand in developing punk’s visual style. Westwood strongly embodies the punk ethic. She’s bored and couldn’t be bothered doing anything and then goes off and does something extraordinary.

 The documentary follows her rallying against the fashion industry establishment. Yet as the establishment often does, it eventually embraces Westwood and gives her the accolades that she deserves. She wins designer of the year awards and even a dame-hood. Her reaction to that is what did it take so long.

Her broader political interests are also shown in the film. Her environment conservation campaign takes her to all ends of the earth. These broader interests have led to her delegating the design creative tasks to her partner, Andreas Kronthaler. He is shown to be a touch crazy perhaps in a cliche way, but as Westwood herself acknowledges, Kronthaler is now the creative powerhouse of the design house.

 Malcom McLaren is notably absent from speaking in the documentary, most probably because he doesn’t come off too good. Something that is typical of histories that involve him. Westwood is an award winning designer while McLaren is reduced to an exploiter and hanger on.

 She is curiously dismissive of Johnny Rotten and The Sex Pistols and lacks an appreciation in that important and landmark group. Nevertheless she played an important supporting role in the impact of Rotten and his cohorts.

 A revealing look at an important trail blazing artist.

Michael Collins


Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist screens on Thursday June 7, Friday June 8 and Tuesday June 19 at Sydney Film Festival .

Tuesday 12th of June, 2018

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