September 24, 2010

Vivienne Westwood's collection is Inspired by Leonard Peltier

So I'm busy reviewing the latest New York Fashion Week collections - and I got side-tracked by London's Fashion Week, which is going on now, and I came across this:

Vivienne Westwood's collection is inspired by Leonard Peltier.

Now this is interesting.

As you probably know, Westwood has long been inspired by 'the Native' - she has incorporated Indigenous design motifs into her punk asthetic since she launched her Savage Collection in 1982.

Now, nearly 20 years later, Westwood seeks to put her noteriety to use and support certain causes: she proclaims (in her collection booklet) that Peltier, a long-jailed American Indian activist, is innocent (and, for this show, she also promotes the legal organization Reprieve, which works on behalf of prisoners at Guantánamo and on death row).

I personally have always enjoyed Westwood's rebellious nature and I like the fact that she seeks to support the people who inspire her. More designers should follow her lead.

Reviewers of her show enjoyed her military-meets-Native style (some calling it Navajo-inspired, which is interesting considering that Peltier is not Navajo, but is actually from my tribe, Turtle Mountain Chippewa).

Some of her models even wore headbands emblazoned with the word "BRANDED" - I could spend days analyzing this collection and her statements about labeling groups of people, stigmatizing a person, or the 'branding' of Indigenous cultures in fashion.

Yet, even though she has supported Peltier in the past (for example, showing special VIP screenings of the documentary 'Incident at Oglala' - which, if you haven't seen, you simply must because it tells an important story in American history) some of her front row attendants still asked, "Who's Leonard Peltier?"