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An interview with UK fashion designer Vivienne Westwood


Summary of story from The Guardian, December 3, 2011

Britain’s most feted fashion designer is many things, but one thing has remained constant: her sense of her difference from the bulk of other people. “I do feel I’m fighting against conformity,” she says.

As if to prove the point, she announces: “The human race faces mass extinction.”

Westwood came to this dystopian conclusion a few years ago when she started to read the books of James Lovelock, the environmentalist most famous for proposing the Gaia hypothesis – the idea that the Earth functions as a living super-organism.

She contends – on the basis of her reading of Lovelock – that once average global temperature levels rise beyond a certain point, they will spiral uncontrollably: “If they rise by two degrees they will go on to five and so on in a domino effect.

“Eventually, if you draw a line at the level of Paris, below that it would be uninhabitable,” warns Westwood. “There’ll be no more going to Florence.”

Westwood has just announced she’s going to give £1m to rainforest charity Cool Earth, which aims to stop such an intolerable future being realised.

Of all the world’s good causes, why Cool Earth?

“The capitalist system is about taking from the Earth and from the other great commodity, labour…We have got to change our ethics and our financial system and our whole way of understanding the world.

“It’s presented as though the financial crisis and climate change are two different things, but they’re connected,” Westwood replies.

“People get paralysed by the enormity of wrong things in the world. There’s only so much that one person can do. What I decided to do was to focus on the rainforest.”

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