​Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist review – Vivienne is the real deal

Kate Moss delivers a killer anecdote but the subject of this documentary is reluctant to reveal much about her glory years

Towards the end of this documentary, Vivienne Westwood’s son Joe Corré describes her as Britain’s last genuine punk. There is truth in that. Punk may have effectively vanished in music, but it lives on in Westwood’s clothes, style and the poses she strikes publicly. In this film, she is reluctant to talk about punk rock or her personal life, perhaps aware of the controversy generated by her ghosted 2016 autobiography, in which she laid into various figures and made sweeping and rather startling statements – such as claiming that her first husband, airline pilot Derek Westwood, managed the Who in the early 60s.

This film takes us through her early life: when she wafts into the orbit of Malcolm McLaren, who made their fashion store Sex a punk headquarters of sorts. Their acrimonious split left Westwood to battle on alone, to raise two children and to survive the worlds of fashion and business – which she did, with no little courage, and mostly without the corporate support which was to be lavished on more mainstream designers such as Stella McCartney.

We see the notorious Sue Lawley TV interview from the 80s, when the studio audience roared with mocking laughter as models came on wearing her creations. Westwood was at first scandalised, threatening to stop the proceedings, but then maintains a strange kind of wounded equanimity, which induced a guilty-looking Lawley to ask if she was upset. The best anecdote is saved for the closing credits, for some reason, when Kate Moss reveals that Westwood told her that, if she was gay, Kate would be the one she would fall for.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

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