Designer Vivienne Westwood is making a statement with her menswear autumn/winter 2012 collection, and it’s not just her signature tartan prints and three-piece suits that are commanding attention.
A long time political activist (she has campaigned for nuclear disarmament and the British civil rights group Liberty), the Brit native also supports environmental causes. The BBC and Discovery channel documentary Frozen Planet airing March 18 focuses on the life and the environment in the Arctic and Antarctic--where the climate change is affecting glaciers, and the extent of sea ice. The series inspired the designer to create a scene against an Arctic-themed backdrop for her Milan fashion show. She sent her models down the runway with frostbitten faces and icicle-covered beards Jan. 15.
"If our leaders would admit the fact of climate change and conduct their politics from that perspective then we might have a chance – we have 10 years at the most to stop it," she says. "Public opinion is the only thing that will save us."
Westwood has been designing since 1971—when she created clothes with Sex Pistol’s manager Malcom McLaren for his first London shop “Let it Rock”— and now has four different collections, Red Label, Gold Label, Man and Anglomania, but she continues to make environmental causes a priority.
In addition to calling attention to David Attenborough’s Discovery series, she also supports other environmental causes. "I was approached by the United Nation Environmental Programme to design a t-shirt for their GreenUp! Campaign. When you start doing things you find people come to you," she states.
"They’re starting with a terrific idea to plant corridors of trees to link Europe’s forests. This new initiative is about triggering new habits for a greener Europe and for greener economies."
Westwood created a funky and bright design for a $39 t-shirt, with all proceeds going to GreenUp. It’s only a matter of time before her a-list fans (which include Sandra Bullock, Gwen Stefani and Helena Bonham Carter, among many others) are sporting her hip tee in addition to her red-carpet ready dresses.