Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist

Sundance Grand Jury Prize-nominated documentary on the undisputed queen of British fashion, Dame Vivienne Westwood.

"Told in her own words, Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist is a sharp-witted look into Westood’s creative process and her life’s journey from 1970s punk protests to fierce independent global figure. Westwood sits alongside Gucci, Dior, and McQueen — but only Westwood still owns and runs her empire. Today she fights to maintain her brand’s integrity and legacy as it expands to open flagship stores in fashion capitals Paris and New York in the face of global consumerism." (Sundance Film Festival)

Trailers

Directed by

Documentary, Festival & Independent

83mins

Rating: M Coarse language

UK

Following Vivienne Westwood—the well-known, multi-faceted subject of Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist—a little of what makes her a freaking genius is unearthed, piece by hard-won piece. This smartly paced, good-looking doco celebrates her often cantankerous and very unique approach to getting things done, whilst never discounting the sheer amount of hard graft she has always poured into her designs and projects.

Candid, though grumpy about having to be, Vivienne sighs and eyerolls through the interviews about the early years, her humble working class background, first marriage and baby son. Increasingly reluctant when it comes to her pivotal relationship with Malcolm McLaren and their consequent contribution to punk culture, she has clearly moved on, though it highlights retrospectively just how much could be attributed purely to Vivienne and her embrace of anarchy.

Director Lorna Tucker spent 3 years working with Westwood, and incorporates recollections from her sons, Ben Westwood and Joseph Corré, Vivienne’s devoted Austrian lover and partner in design Andreas Kronthaler (half her age, gloriously attired, opinionated), and a couple of old supermodels amongst others. Combined with archival footage and photos, all of which serve to confirm Westwood’s natural curiosity and refusal to conform are an intrinsic part of her success.

Though Tucker seemed to dedicate a fair amount of time to where the British Designer is at now, she was condemned by Westwood on the eve of the film’s release for not concentrating enough on her activism, and Vivienne has since distanced herself from the project. With such a controversial release came focus on Westwood’s primary environmental and human rights concerns and one can’t help but wonder if the punk has struck again.

The vigour that propels her forward, still a mighty force, seems today wholly fired by her concern for the environment and living consciously incorporating her values. I found it very refreshing to see such an unrelenting, subversive designer refusing to bow to any kind of convention, kicking fashion’s ass, riding her bike, and pursuing environmental activism, all in the most exceptional style.

Hollywood Reporter

press

Tension soon dissipates, and all that's left is a much too cursory portrait of a figure whose fascinating life and career should have led to a more interesting film.

Little White Lies

press

The life of this visionary entrepreneur is far bigger than a single film, but director Lorna Tucker does a decent job of compacting Westwood's iconoclastic legacy.

Los Angeles Times

press

It provides a fascinating, involving glimpse of both who Westwood was back in the day and who she is at this particular moment in time, so much so that we genuinely miss her once the credits begin to roll.

Screen International

press

Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist uses interviews, archive footage and intimate fly-on-the-wall access to get (almost) to the heart of this remarkable woman; although one suspects that Westwood will always keep some secrets firmly up her sleeve.

The Times (UK)

press

Dame-d by the very Queen she and her fellow punks once desired to "destroy", Vivienne Westwood has gone from national joke, ridiculed for her outré, rude fashion design, to national treasure, but at 76 she hasn't mellowed with age.

Variety (USA)

press

Lorna Tucker's consistently entertaining, enthralled portrait of aberrant British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood.

TimeOut (London)

press

Westwood's loyalties feel torn and the fashion house is plunged into drama. It makes this the perfect film to double bill 'Phantom Thread' with.

Stuff.co.nz (James Croot)

press

Where the film does comes alive though is in the behind-the-scenes footage of her critquing her own collection, or how it is being portrayed.

Like Westwood herself, colourful, energetic and entertaining.

Lorna Tucker’s documentary on British designer, Dame Vivienne Westwood proves as difficult to grasp as the concept of a “Dame” being “Punk”. Tucker charts the business career, highs and lows, of this aging, self-proclaimed anarchist, who is now more focused on environmental activism than haute couture.

Centred on a stubbornly defiant subject, this doco does a great job of filling you in on Westwood’s past, and whilst never enlightening, it remains, like Westwood herself, colourful, energetic and entertaining.