I watched the first installment of Vivienne Westwood's London on CTV on Saturday. Really, who has the TV at 7 on a Saturday? I had to rearrange my dinner schedule. Any way the show garnered a "nudity warning" and it made me wonder.
The aim of the program was to persuade visitors to London to eschew the tourist route of Madame Tussaud's, Buckingham Palace and Big Ben/Westminster Abbey.
It was great fun as slightly-barmy Westwood dragged us around to her favourite London haunts. She showed us incredibly famous art at a couple of less well-known institutes;The Wallace Collection and the Cortauld. At the Wallace she showed us one of her favourites whose name I've forgotten. Very dark, she said, but it contained all the colours in the world. It also contained a nipple. Was this the reason for the nudity warning at every ad break. She focused on Fragonard's The Swing, and said that the joke was that the girl didn't have her knickers on. Vivienne Westwood frequently goes about without her knickers on. Is this the nudity?
Then Westwood took us to the Cortauld where she waxed poetic about Renoir's La Loge.
Other places Westwood introduced us to were an outdoor market underneath the railway arches. It reminded me very much of Toronto's St. Lawrence Market. With the aid of her former muse and model, Sarah Stockbridge, we visited notorious White Chapel and walked down Brixton's Electric Avenue.
Vivienne Westwood loves the Barbican and carried on a bit about how important live theatre is. She loves Henry the VIII's Hampton Court and the authentic kitchen. Me too. She was also intrigued by one of the historical interpreter's cod piece. That must have been the annoying nudity even though he was covered in layers of red felt.
For somebody who is known as one of the architects of the punk movement, her being so enamoured with the past is strange. Over lunch at the Wallace Collection she said to the Globe and Mail's Elizabeth Renzetti,
"The 20th century was a mistake,” she says. “There was nothing produced in the 20th century, no ideas. There’s not one person alive who could paint one flower on that porcelain” – again, the hand flutters toward the Wallace galleries – “or anything that’s in there.”Wow, that sort of negates punk, and grunge and the way clothing, music and art have evolved over the past 35 years. Hmm.
I never had much time for Westwood, being much too much of a flake. She has always been too outre for me. But watching this programme I grew to really like her. She had boundless energy for someone about to turn 70. She bikes all over London. Although I was mentally combing her bright red hair through most of the show I really admired her nutty, eccentric style.
Vivienne Westwood's had a major impact on the 20th Century despite that she now says "no ideas were produced in the 20th Century." She and her spouse of the time, Malcom McLaren made the Punk movement happen. Doc Marten owes her a debt of gratitude. Now I know that she loves good art makes me like Vivienne Westwood even more. Maybe she's one of my red-headed muses - Although with Vivienne I don't think the red hair will last.
I was able to find this video of VW at the Wallace. In this video she is actually much more subdued than the one I watched thanks to FashionTelevision.