Vivienne writes longhand, Cynthia types and Joe puts it on the web.
This is Joe, I’ve had a wonderful holiday in Fuerteventura and this is why the blog is late. Sorry. Just want to tell you about my little son Joe who at 18 months is sliding headfirst down the slide into the pool, fearless and totally happy.
Tuesday, 26 June: Yoga. Iris (brilliant guest pattern maker) is here and Andreas is working with her. I do two big interviews which take all day – one for Bloomberg TV’s “Eye2Eye” programme, another for “Kulturmontag” on Austrian TV. I only do interviews if I can talk about climate change – and how the role of the Art Lover is tied in with it, can help stop it. Nevertheless, people want to interview me primarily because I’m a fashion designer (Bloomberg needed footage of me and our couture in Davies Street), though of course by now they are also interested in the mix: fashion designer/activist.
In answer to the question, ‘”Buy less, choose well, make it last, how does that reconcile?’ I tell them, “A healthy business is supposed to expand; I wish to grow in quality, not quantity – yet keeping prices down; my customers help me by choosing well. It would be nice if the Queen would set an example by wearing the same thing over and over again.”
Wednesday, 27 June: One short interview for the Vogue website (for a surprise they’re planning), another interview (written) for Austria (The interest for Austria is because our friend is opening a Vivienne Westwood shop there in autumn.)
As you know, we have small teams of designers to develop our lines and accessories. I have introduced a plan for key organizers in our company to talk to them and their colleagues in marketing, individually one at a time, so as to “free up their job” and empower them; give them more responsibility and authority to make decisions and control their career and even transfer to other design areas. We are trying to use skills and talent to their best advantage. The aim is Quality rather than Quantity – this means Quality in design and manufacture and also Quality of life for our team. I shall not always take part in these discussions but when I do I shall refer to it as Q v. Q.
Evening: Cynthia reports – Vivienne and I had a lovely evening watching the Royal Ballet perform ‘The Prince of the Pagodas’ at the beautiful Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. We were invited by our friend Fernando Montano, a wonderful dancer with the company. We thought the ballet was great – the new staging of Kenneth MacMillan’s work (which hadn’t been performed in 16 years) was fantastic; Benjamin Britten’s score was perfect. The corps de ballet was an unruly troupe of baboons – hilarious – they kept acting up, they never stopped rolling around and grooming each other. I couldn’t stop watching them! When we spoke with some of the principal dancers afterwards they said that it was hard for them not to laugh at their antics during the performance. All combined, it was like being in a fairy tale, maybe a combination of Sleeping Beauty and The Frog Prince with a touch of King Lear. I used to do ballet when I was a girl and I just loved it!
Thursday, 28 June: Wrote up the diary. At 2.00 I was ready to leave for work but then I changed my mind – I was tired. I phoned Andreas and he said OK, so I went to bed. Slept, cooked, went to yoga.
Friday, 29 June: Finally managed to join in with the work on Gold Label with Iris and Andreas – fittings and discussion of fabrics. It is really starting to happen, really exciting. Worked on a print.
Evening: Selfridge’s. Talked on their roof garden to some of their customers; following on from Selfridges having featured window displays to sell our tee shirts for the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) and including my politics as expressed in the fashions of my World’s End shop.
The talk was on my usual subject of the connections between climate change and finance and politics and the need for true culture (my mantra). The focus was on the Family Tree (a blow-up of which had taken up all of one window) and what can one person do? Start with informing yourself and become an Art Lover (Get off the consumer treadmill).
I was really delighted to see young celebrities there – I want to keep in touch with them all through what I’m trying to do (Get a Life for future generations but also for yourself). And I was particularly pleased to see young models there. I want models to become aspirational people – through “Get a Life”. I am waiting until August when they are not so busy to go with a group to the art gallery.
I asked people to buy the Family Tree poster for £10 and if they could not afford that to give £5. We also included a Cool Earth brochure; all proceeds to go to Cool Earth. Out of around 150 people we raised £230. I think it’s a real token of commitment, a formal pledge to donate even £5, so I was really pleased. It signified to me that I had got through to people in my speech. And I don’t just give away the poster indiscriminately.
Saturday, 30 June: Yoga. Then Andreas went to work with Iris but because I was tired he told me to go and do my thing; I could read in bed and I had a sleep. I joined him at work at 4.00 – they had done really good new things.
At 5.30, we boarded a coach near Sloane Square to travel with other guests to Jemima Khan’s house warming party in the countryside. I took the opportunity to ask one of my fellow travellers, Neil, a social media journalist working for the Wall Street Journal – owned by Murdoch – what was happening with Julian Assange’s reputation in the social media. This man has no clue what is happening in the world. He told me Julian faced no danger from America; as to Obama’s regular Tuesday drone killings he replied, “What else can Obama do?” [What I think: everybody knows the CIA assassinates a lot. Now, by killing openly, Obama is testing public opinion; since 9/11 law in America has become “in your face” raw power – whatever people in power say is legal, is legal; nothing else. Never has government tyranny been so bold: Law is Us. We are told that, though controversial, most Americans accept what Obama is doing (tough President). I also heard on BBC Radio 4, “Drones are good, we kill less soldiers.] Neil went on to enthuse about the school girls’ dinner photo triumph. That’s where it’s at. Neil makes me sick!
At this point, I’d had enough. I went to the back of the bus to talk to my friends, Noreena Hertz, economist and author (The Silent Takeover: global Capitalism & the Death of Democracy and IOU: the Debt Threat and Why We Must Diffuse It) and David Fenton, an American PR activist, of whom more in the future as we are joining him in a grand scheme to raise climate change awareness. I agree with David that Rupert Murdoch has done more harm in the present world than anyone I can think of. He owns Fox News which, David tells me, is false propaganda, the same lies repeated over and over; “Everybody in the UK should be made to watch Fox News for a week” – to wake up to how ridiculously unbelievable it is.
Now we are arriving. The house is an 18th century architectural gem. The setting! A perfect landscape between lush hills and woods. Inside, I never saw such flower arrangements, such wanton gorgeousness of colour and blooming magnitude – thrown into the vases.
It’s a great party. Trudie Styler’s long legs as she descends the staircase feeling so hot in her hot pants. Drinks. Andreas points to the Grayson Perry tapestry. Jemima: “Do you like it? I saw the program he did on T.V. and he is such a sincere and highly intelligent person with such an interesting view. Thats what made me decide to buy it.” Andreas had told me the same and that he has such original observations to make on the working class. I would like to listen to this. We don’t talk much about the different classes any more. We talk about the haves and have nots.
Jeanne Marine takes us up to her and bob Geldof’s bedroom to look at the view. Over the bed is an artwork in neon writing by my dear friend, Tracey Emin, “Those who suffer love”. I go, “Oh, dear!” Andreas says, “It takes two” (She who did it and she who bought it).
We look down on the terrace – at one side a pool – overlooking the French rose garden with lavender and set in geometric box hedges and leading down to a stream then up again to grassy hills.
I try to speak with Joseph, Assange’s assistant. We go into the kitchen with Bella Freud to be on our own and Joseph says that Julian never told anyone, not him, not anyone, that he was going to seek asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy; he also said that people would not lose their bail bonds because asylum takes precedence over other bail conditions. Then we were joined by a boring man holding forth on a stream of borrowed opinions and Bella and I walked off, leaving poor Joseph who was too polite.
Then a lady, Helen Lewis, introduced herself to me, a writer from the New Statesman. I suddenly realized who she was and said, “Oh, you’re the one who wrote your bad opinions about Julian Assange.” She said, “I would have been very pleased if he had defended himself in the Swedish Court.” And went on about justice for the poor Swedish girls who had sex with him and now claim to have been raped. The media keep insidiously forgetting that the sex was consensual until a certain Swedish politician and a lawyer decided the story should be changed. I said, “And who are you to be very pleased? The man faces the possibility of life in solitary confinement, even the death penalty?”
I was delighted to meet Tracey Worcester whose film “Pig Business” you can watch on the internet (www.pigbusiness.co.uk). I’ve seen it – it’s about the harm done to pigs and the whole world by corporate factory farming. This woman is so strong and beautiful. What she does comes from the most refined human motivation. Please see it and act for change: for hundreds of years animals have had no rights and are there for our use; all rights are identified exclusively with humans; we have become disoriented, alienated from the planet – we have lost touch with reality. Let’s get real and stop the devastation. Start with cruel bacon sandwiches.
At night I stood on the terrace by a brazier with Andreas and Rifat Ozbek who was telling us how he enjoys the London club scene. After three year’s work, he has just finished decorating Robin Birley’s new London club, “Rupert’s”.
A pine which was two great limbs, split at the base and an ornamental stone basin on a plinth were highlighted in the garden throwing into dark relief the other bushes and plants of the garden landscape and the hills as the moon came out from its silver clouds.
There were hundreds of glamorous guests and Jemima was the centre of it all, running around in her lame mini-dress, talking to anyone and everyone. She’s witty and sarcastic and full of fun, radiating with energy. Andreas says she’s a sphinx, “I can’t make her out, perhaps it’s all that hair.” (She said to her sister-in-law who was wearing jeans and a sweater, “Oh, I see you made an effort!” “But I didn’t know there was a dress code!” “Nevertheless!”)
Jemima is a perfect hostess, an important political hostess; I can see how she makes best use of the house to invite people.
Sunday, 1 July:I go with Andreas to the antiques fair, “Masterpiece”. There are really precious wonderful things and you can have this intimate relation with them. These are things you can buy and here I am trying on the best pair of diamond earrings, Georgian ones that suit me perfectly; holding in my hand a glazed pottery amulet of Thoth, 12 cm high from Egypt, 4th century BC. After having lived a little “The Story of the Stone” I fancy very much living in my imagination, close to whoever wore the amulet. I would need time to try to find out how. I don’t have the time and I am left with a feeling of awe.
Embroidery was such an important part of the lives of more privileged women who would sit talking while they sewed or one of them would read aloud. I know that even after Henry VIII divorced his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, she continued to make his embroidered shirts. I learnt so many interesting details talking to the vendors of their work. I hadn’t realized, for example, that education was widely available to children in the 16th century where girls were taught embroidery.
If I could choose one thing, it would be a set of three miniature paintings by Guardi. In reproduction you cannot see the air. You have to look at Guardi’s paintings themselves to see a never-ending horizon in each of these tiny masterpieces. In his views of Venice, he worked exclusively on depicting reality such as the eye saw it. His new approach to painting and the manner of painting influenced the Impressionists and modern painting. Even so, he was a master of the tradition of oil painting – the indirect method – which gives unlimited possibility of expression and he pushed the technique into his own original method. “He was prolific and ‘churned them out’ for the tourists of Venice though he was not so popular as the more traditional Canaletto”, Andreas told me. “I love small”, he said. Small when it’s great is any size at all.