Dame Vivienne Westwood sits overlooking the serene sun-kissed lake of Henham Park in picturesque east England. The venue’s bucolic land is the kind of fair pastures that the 73-year-old fashion designer is vehemently campaigning to save from fracking.
Westwood, who is attending Latitude Festival on behalf of environmental activists Greenpeace, admits “I don’t like festivals but I’m pleased by the number of people that squeezed in. It’s a great opportunity to talk to people.” Nowadays, the doyenne is as expressive vocally as she is creatively. Both the designer and her label are now totems against social, cultural and political injustices. Here, Westwood voices her views on feminism, the “innocence” of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and the failings of the United States in world affairs.
Lily Allen, who headlined here at Latitude, is an outspoken advocate of feminism. What’s your view of feminism being at the center of press and public debate at the moment?
I think feminists should just stop being so hypocritical. It’s like we’re victims who deserve special treatment – it’s so unheroic. We should be caring about world problems and not silly stupid feminine consumption. They’re these materialistic women who just want to talk about breast cancer, rape and how they’re so special and how their husband doesn’t understand them. I mean, I just think they’re rubbish and I think women politicians are rubbish as well because they want to be just like men and they shouldn’t be. It should be what’s best about human beings. Human beings are brilliant. They [politicians] are all brainwashed and they’ve all bought into this western myth. I just think it’s really terrible that they actually don’t care about people and all they know is this mantra of “look after big business, let’s have growth and let’s have jobs”. But big business is not giving that to us.
Do you not think that big business is good for the economy and therefore the rest of society?
Big businesses are all sitting there saying, “What’s good for us, is good for the world and therefore it’s good for everybody.” But they’re completely destroying the world in the name of their own special interests. It’s all down to this horrible club, this mafia that runs the world made up of bankers, politicians and the media that are all helping each other.
You’re clearly not a feminist, so what are you… a humanist, perhaps?
A human being. What am I…? I’m not really a humanist. I believe in cavemen. I just believe in the potential of human beings to be the most wonderful things and to make the world a paradise. We could make the world a paradise if we stuck to our really true human values. People have been anaesthetized by propaganda and the enticement of consumption. We’ve got extreme capitalism.
Your friend Julian Assange is one for exposing corruption. Recently your son Ben suggested that Assange might appear on the catwalk. But don’t you think it’s time that Assange appeared in court?
Sweden will not charge him because they have no evidence against him. They regard him as a suspect but he is still innocent. He has said, “Well, I would come back but can you guarantee that you are not going to send me to America?” And they won’t guarantee it. What is the reason they want him to go there? Let Julian go to court. He would love to go to court and clear his name. He would love to but he’s not been given the opportunity because he faces being put in a concrete cell in America. I wouldn’t go and I don’t think anyone in their right mind would go. He prefers to be in the Ecuadorian Embassy where he can run WikiLeaks, which is absolutely great for all of us.
Speaking of America, what’s your view of their involvement in Ukraine and Malaysia Airlines flight MH17?
I think the U.S. probably shot it down, that’s what I really think. Because they’re always at the back of everything. If you hear a country’s been destabilized you think the CIA is in there. I’m not a fan of Putin, he’s a thug and I’m not going to say who is worse or better than the others coz they’re all bad.
Do you think that a woman like Hillary Clinton could change the image of the U.S.?
No, she’s a criminal, this woman. Look what she’s done to the people who have been killed under the auspices of her theories and her whitewash and misrepresentation of what’s happening in the world. America boasts about leading the world. And they do lead the world: they’re leading the world into disaster.