Vivienne Westwood is a human - just like me

Vivienne Westwood has always been a celebrity figure to me. Sure, she's an activist, she's a freedom fighter, and she's an anarchist, but she always felt quite far removed from the world that I live in.

Before you say, think, or argue anything - I have always been a huge fan. So much so that tonight I paid £15 for a ticket to see her and Caroline Lucas "in conversation" at the Brighton Dome - a ticket that, as it turns out, changed my perspective entirely.

Her appearance in my home city was part of a book tour, promoting her latest autobiography, 'Get a life'. I haven't read the book, but it promises to share Viv's "fresh and unpredictable" life. 

"One week, you might find Vivienne up the Amazon, highlighting tribunal communities' struggles to maintain the rainforest; another might see her visiting Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy, or driving up to David Cameron's house in the Cotswolds' in a full-on tank. Then again, Vivienne might be hanging out with her friend Pamela Anderson, or in India for Naomi Campbell's birthday party, or watching Black Sabbath in Hyde Park with Sharon Osborne," says the blurb on Amazon. 

She has, without question, lived an extraordinary life. However, for someone as ordinary as myself - whose political opinions are not reflected by parliament, whose creative skills will never attain the same financial success as a banker and whose daily life will never be of interest to anyone living outside of my world - she could only ever feel like a beacon of hope. That person in the realms above our 99% society who's fighting for causes that will not destroy our sacred planet.

My expectation from this evening was that I would walk away feeling empowered to live life more sustainably. I thought it would make me stricter with recycling, more vigilant with food waste - hell, maybe it would have even turned me vegan. I care about saving our planet, after all.

What I didn't expect was to consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe, Vivienne Westwood is just like me.

I'm not comparing us in terms of experience, craft or talent - she achieved far more by 24 than I have - but her quirks and nuances were so unpolished and honest that her messages felt real, plausible and possible.

Undeniably, my surprise over this comes from the fact that traditional celebrity culture is renowned for presenting a false, manufactured representation of the person that we place on that 1984-esque pedestal. Vivienne Westwood is famous for not giving a fuck about what people think of her - to me, that level of fame has had to come with some cynicism.

I've always believed in Vivienne Westwood, the celebrity, and everything that she represents. I just didn't consider that she could ever be a real human being, wearing a bright pint suit, thick framed white glasses and a waistcoat talking about how she should really listen to her friend and go to a modern ballet - even though she's really not into that. 

I didn't think that one of the most empowering, independent and thought-provoking women in the world would sometimes lose her train of thought. I also didn't ever believe that one of the most influential fashion designers in the world, who has inspired thousands of fashionistas to delve into the industry, would answer "what advice would you give to someone trying to get into fashion?" with "think of something else."

Vivienne bashed our political system with "we'll never be a democracy", referred to our financial system as "rotten and bankrupt", and slipped in "we all need to switch to green energy" as many times as she could. "As an activist, my job is to clarify things," she said.

Don't get me wrong, I'm under no illusion that her messages were not pre-rehearsed. They're probably in the book, which she was there to sell after all - if she wanted to be in a pub with her friends talking about this stuff, I'm in no doubt that she would be.

But seeing this oracle for a better world stumble over words and share stories of her time as a teacher in Berlin, without a single name drop, was one of the most refreshing "celebrity experiences" that I've had in my entire life.

I wasn't going to write about tonight. I live tweeted it, because, you know, that's what I do. But I was going to give myself the whole night off. Instead, I felt compelled to skip the post-Viv drinks and write this down.

I didn't write it for her. She doesn't read magazines, so the chances of her reading the blog of a 24 year old girl are basically zero. I wrote it for anyone as cynical as I am about celebrity culture, and who's been questioning the authenticity of the Dame herself.

Forget the packaged "Vivienne Westwood brand" that her fashion lines embody and her publicists embellish. Vivienne Westwood is a human - extraordinary beyond reasonable doubt - but a human all the same.

And if this human being can empower people to save our planet, whilst looking fabulous at the same time, then so can we.

ThoughtsPippa Says