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This review is of the German hard cover biography: „Vivienne Westwood” from Vivienne Westwood and Ian Kelly.
548 pages, plus 5 pages of chronology, 4 pages of thanks, 4 pages of references, 12 pages explanatory notes,8 pages index, 3 pages of pictures and one page about co-author Ian Kelly.
Cover description: Vivienne Westwood is one of the icons of our time. Fashion designer, activist, pioneer of punk, global brand and grandmother –a living legend.
For the very first time she, together with award-winning author Ian Kelly, has written the story of her life, going through all of the experiences, people and ideas that made her what she is today.
About the book: Peppered with lots of pictures from Westwood´s private life, reading the book makes time fly and it´s difficult to put the book down. It´s not so much to do with the text from co-author, Kelly, but the honesty that is a lot of the time left out in celebrity biographies.
It begins with the chapter „Everything is connected“ where Westwood and her co-author are introduced from a first-person narrative during the preparation of a fashion show. „The Girl in the utility dress” is dedicated to her childhood shadowed by the Second World War, which was nevertheless a happy time. Westwood shows us the nice and not-so-nice memories of her family members, early insights of herself as well as her surroundings. She talks more of her personal stories, rather than as an observer of the time.
In „Let It Rock“ one goes into the wild teenager, who drifts more and more to her passion, fashion and the whole rock and roll culture of Great Britain of the time. „Mrs. Westwood´s Wedding Dress“ tells of the wedding with Derek „Del“ Westwood, with whom she has a son, Ben. It is clear how difficult this chapter is for her, as the co-author left every indecisiveness in the book. Through him, she got to know the rock music scene. This turn of events formed her fashion and she even managed the Sex Pistols. In 1966 they dot a divorce, but never said a bad word about each other –not even in this book.
The following chapter is mostly about the beginning of her career, it´s impediments as well as her engagement in Green Peace, the human rights organisation, Liberty, and her role as the mother of punk. In „Fräulein Kronthaler“ Westwood describes how she got to know her current husband, Andreas Kronthaler. Back then she was 48 and he 23. He was her student at the time. In sight of the bums and repeats in this chapter, one can notice how emotional the grand dame of punk was, whilst talking about it. Also Andreas got some words of his own in this part and is as passionate as Westwood.
In „Climate Revolutionary“ the readers are shown what Westwood does apart from Greenpeace and Liberty. Amongst others, she supports Julian Assange. In the final chapter „The River flows on“ we are in the here and now and one is left with the feeling of almost completely knowing Westwood.
Conclusion: Ian Kelly leaves the book as authentic as possible, including a lot of repetition. There could have been a bit more editing to make reading the book easier, but this is the only criticism. Whether or not one is interested in fashion and the circus behind it, this biography introduces us to a versatile, interesting, engaged and in her field, a genius woman, who inspired a lot of people. This time it would be a crime to leave the explanatory notes on page 553 unread, as there are numerous supplements that make the story even more conclusive. A sure recommendation to buy.