Too shallow to queue, Vivien Lash, survives a dream about Nicole Kidman’s knees to be whisked off to the most glamorous that London fashion week has to offer.
As a Soho-Scottish expat, my heart shouted YES YES YES to the referendum vote. So I was ecstatic that the other Viv, Dame Westwood, dedicated her Red Label spring 2015 show, Democracy, to supporting Scotland’s freedom. Even the queue was democratic, with Vivvy’s son Ben Westwood — imagine Harvey Keitel in Taxi Driver, but with better boots — and his leather-clad Japanese wife waiting in line behind me.
England’s other Queen has been with me at all the big moments. From my first day at school when I turned up in a punk pink Anarchy shirt worn with my midget granny’s Chanel jacket and St. Trinian’s-style trashed silk stockings, my place was secured as the class-fash leader.
John Waters, who describes his look as ‘disaster at the dry cleaners’ advises that to be a fashion leader you need to annoy your peers, not your parents. My school uniform annoyed everybody except my best accessory, the flabster friend who would make even Lena Dunham look thinster if she were sitting next to her. So I sat in the front row with the cheek to wear an old — let’s call it vintage — High Street red dress with, of all things, black stockings. Everyone knows it’s flesh-colored tights this year. I’m so fucking rad!
The usual questions flashed through my mind the night before Queen Viv’s show in Bloomsbury’s Victoria House. Will I be the fattest one in the front row? Should I have taken the advice of the skeletor in Yves Saint Laurent, who suggested that I have my chest amputated to fit into a size-zero Le Smoking? Why is Westwood’s youngest son called Joe Corre and not Joe McLaren? Is it because everyone shouts “Cor!” when they see his Agent Provocateur underwear? Will I be able to resist putting pins on the seats of those hacks who compete to look more bored than Victoria Beckham? And the big question, the one that haunts me every day: What will I wear?
It has been a difficult week. First a nightmare involving Nicole Kidman’s knees, then I was caught in the fish-eye of a wide-angled lens at a show that shall never be named. My size-two body was stretched into a middle-aged woman’s idea of thin, even though I’d taken the precaution of practically jumping into the lap of the wobbliest wag there. The manservant has been so busy policing social media to report anyone who shared that evil image that he hasn’t had time to paint my toes. Of course I want to murder the photographer, but Mr. Lash recommends deleting the pic from his server. He has the best ideas, as well as access to anti-terrorist technology.
To take my mind off murder, my Prince Charming took me to Rick Owens’ midnight party at Selfridges’ car park. Clever Rick, he walks the tightrope between art, fashion, and wit. Mr. Lash, like most spies, tends to dress more nedzo than fashion victim. But he will make an exception for Rick, who speaks Chinese. And the great thing about living in Soho is that Mr. Lash never has far to carry me when we go out in shoes I can’t walk in. So Mr. Lash deposited me on the pavement and ran ahead shouting, “My wife is too shallow to queue.”
Westwood has been attacked on social media for hating England. What she actually said in the press release she left on the seats at her show, instead of a goody bag, was, “Scottish independence could be the turning point towards a better world.” Does this have anything to do with clothes? Of course. How you look is a part of who you are, as much as your dislikes and desires.
If my suitcase hadn’t been stolen en route to the Aga Khan’s party in Africa, I’d have a lot more Westwood in my wardrobe. So much, in fact, that I’d need more than a closet to put it in. I’d have to house my clothes in a spare apartment like wee Yoko Ono and her mink coats. Give peace a chance, but not if you’re a small furry animal. Though Yoko herself might have been mistaken for a mongoose when she had long hair last century.
The other Viv is more artist than designer. Her eyes are more important than her sketching pencil. She’d rather stand at a bus stop than go to the cinema, she once said. And let’s face it, who really wants to stand at a bus stop? Last time I tried it, a stinky man tried to touch my hair. Dame Vivienne also said, “People have never looked so dreadful ever.” They’d look better in her tailoring and tartans, which don’t date but are distinctive enough to be copied, like Versace’s safety-pin dress worn by Liz Hurley, who’s about as punk as a cupcake.
A former teacher, Vivvy loves to read and boss people about. Johnny Rotten told me about the time she took him out to dinner and explained an aubergine to him. Or was it an avocado? Well, he did have a vegetable-starved complexion. ‘She was a big person in a small shop,’ says my friend Frostie, who misspent his youth at SEX in King’s Road and dangerously close to love with Malcolm McLaren. Now she’s an original woman in a conventional world, attacked by Twitter trolls as a ‘vile old hag’ for daring to have opinions.
The flirty glamour of the dresses in this collection were purity mixed with desire, worn by curly-haired models with paint-smeared faces and scratches on their bare legs. I’d wear them in Havana, or to visit the Courtauld Institute, one of Dame Viv’s fave galleries, my feet encased in her softcore-porn shoes as I walk towards Rousseau. In her closing bow, Viv’s skinny legs, big nose, and shorn white hair gave her a regal grandeur, more than usual, like a bird who wants to fly away from everyone’s eyes. She walked to Sex Pistols’ God Save the Queen.
‘Get over it,’ mutters the hack beside me. But she’s wrong. Nostalgia isn’t about the past, it’s a mix of the present and future.