Old Paintings of Drunk People: Vivienne Westwood’s $367 Million Secret?

By
Photo: Imaxtree

Cathy Horyn profiles Vivienne Westwood in the new issue of T hitting stands Sunday. Horyn notes Westwood resisted selling out to big companies. In the early nineties, a prominent investor chose to back another London label instead of hers. Westwood, whose empire does about $367 million in sales a year, responds, "They could have made money with me. They lost it. I’m a woman. I’m like household management or whatever it is. I would never spend more than I have."

So what is Westwood's secret to success, aside from not really giving a damn about what other people think and not knowing who Kanye West is?

What has remained constant in her design is Westwood’s attention to cut. Lately it’s been infused with a feeling of improv, a D.I.Y. quality that goes back to her punk years. In her spring 2009 collection, she made black chiffon trousers that were cut and worn like chaps over another garment. She said they were based on 17th-century Dutch paintings ‘‘where somebody is just lying down drunk and you can see into the top of the pants.’’


She's absolutely right — getting drunk is the best way to look cool. Everyone tries to look like they're not trying too hard — like they just threw on an old pair of pants and a cleverly draped pillowcase and walked out the door having forgotten to wash their eyeliner off from yesterday. But if you're really drunk, this will come off much more naturally than the result of trying four outfits on every morning or trying to steam things with your shower or painstakingly checking for underwear lines or other overly self-aware fussings.

The Queen V [T/NYT]