June 22, 2014 Milan
The show was called Moral Outrage, making it clear from the start that Westwood was itching to talk about something big, something other than fashion. That something was Leonard Peltier, the Native American activist who was incarcerated in 1977 for the murder of two FBI agents. If you didn't know, the designer is convinced the notorious case is bogus, that Peltier is innocent. "He's been in prison for forty years, but it's a total fraud," she said backstage before the presentation, her words taking on new poignancy as they tumbled through purple lipstick. "He didn't do it."
Wait, was that the cause Westwood wanted to champion? Because slapped across the backdrop was an image of a pig. A pig! And several of the models wore plastic pig snouts. Right, she wanted to highlight Pig Business, an undercover documentary that exposes the cruelty of pig farming in the U.K. Her team had just dispatched an e-mail about it, so that must have been it.
No, no. That wasn't it either. Handwritten atop the invitation was "climaterevolution.co.uk," a website where the designer shares her urgent views on the impact of materialism and the deleterious effect it's having on the environment, a subject she has been very vocal about for a number of years. Some may scoff, but Westwood is highly informed on the matter, and that's to be commended. When sustainability and eco-awareness finally take root in the fashion industry, she will have once again been a pioneer.
Obviously, she wanted to raise all of these issues, and probably has many more at the ready. As long as she has the spotlight, why not bundle her crusades? Who's going to stop her? As for the clothes, they were classic Westwood, loaded with her trademark tatters, swashbuckling shapes, exaggerated collars and cuffs, and upturned pockets. That's as potent a political statement as any, although Westwood's final words to this reviewer, delivered with a mischievous grin, are what will resonate the most: "I'm the most unpatriotic person but I like the Queen."