“Something has got to happen this year, or else we’re too late,” says Vivienne Westwood in conversation with Naomi Campbell. The two activists have come together for a British Vogue video, to discuss the “mismanagement” of the world and the importance of action at a time when climate change is so severe that our house is essentially on fire. “It’s not enough to just live the life you’ve got already,” continues Westwood. “You’ve got to stick to the three Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle.”
The pair first met when Campbell, aged 16, and her friend Kate Moss hassled Westwood to let them look in the house archives. Westwood obliged the curious models and took them to tea at the Criterion. “You sat us down and gave us a talking to about being conscious in the world,” remembers Campbell. “That had a big impact on me. It was around the time that I started working with Nelson Mandela in South Africa, so it was all new to me still. You know, they have these posh words for it now, like philanthropy. For me it was just like, you do it because you want to do it.”
Westwood began her career campaigning for human rights and believes the environmental problems we face are because of the chasm created by our societal structure. “It’s the rotten financial system that’s the cause of the whole thing, it takes money from the poor and gives it to the rich,” opines Westwood. “And therefore, you’ve got this incredible gap, and it creates climate change, because it’s raping the earth and it creates poverty.” Her two strands of work – as an activist and as a designer – have become entwined, because “each helps the other,” she explains. “It’s very, very important to look great if you want to make a point, because then people [take you seriously].”
When Campbell asks Westwood, “What can people do out there to play their part in saving this planet?” the designer refers to the three Rs, and another personal motto, “buy less”, which is emblazoned across many of her designs. “That’s it,” she states. “You reduce the clothes you’re buying, you buy quality not quantity, [and] make sure you want to keep on wearing it. Go to work in an evening dress if you want.” Take an old T-shirt into one of Westwood’s stores and she’ll paint the missive on for you to minimise paint-pot plastic.
“Edward [Enninful] did the right thing because he put me and you together,” Westwood tells Campbell. “That’s something that people can do, they can talk to people and get them to join in the conversation.” The supermodel assures her friend that society is gradually waking up and listening, adding: “We don’t know how much time there is left really, do we?”
Watch the video in full below, to hear Westwood share her thoughts on Greta Thunberg’s campaigning, and Campbell reminisce about why she fell on the Vivienne Westwood runway in 1993.