JO DAVISON: Viv rips in as integrity of fashion award goes West

British designer Vivienne Westwood
British designer Vivienne Westwood
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One is a sweet young thing with the face of an angel and a demeanour to match; a girl who looks perfect and poised and pretty whenever she steps on to a red carpet.

The other is an ageing, wrinkled radical whose image hovers - very deliberately- somewhere between Queen Elizabeth 1 and the wicked witch in Hansel and Gretel.

And the latter has the temerity to announce she had no idea why the former should receive an award pronouncing her a style icon.

In fact, she went on to add, she had no idea who Sweet Young Thing actually was. She’d never heard of her.

Just untwist your knickers for a minute, though, will you?

The cynical old rag-hag presenting the title at the Elle magazine style awards was none other than Vivienne Westwood.

And while everyone is carping about how “rude” she was to poor, humiliated little Emma, surely she is the one woman who has the right to query why a slip of a celebrity like Emma Watson (Hermione in Harry Potter, in case you don’t know, either) should be given iconic fashion status?

Especially as we all know that celebrities like Ms Watson are dressed head to toe by highly experienced stylists. That a wealth of top hairdressers, the most famed fashion designers and the best make-up artists in the world all clamour to offer their services, showering their latest client with a whole load of freebies in the hope of a celebrity endorsement.

I don’t particularly like the way Dame Viv chooses to dress, but it is undeniably HER style. It’s unique; it’s Westwood to a ripped, safety-pinned Tee.

And barking though that wild hair the colour of a kipper and the nutty manifesto on active resistance to propaganda make her appear, she’s definitely a genius.

Her creations have transformed the face of fashion since she burst onto the scene in the Seventies. She brought theatre and passion and adventure to an industry with its head firmly stuck up its teeny-tiny little bottom.

If anyone’s an iconic image of style, it’s Viv. If anyone isn’t, it’s a minor celebrity whose only part in dressing herself for a public appearance is fastening her bra.

None of this is Emily’s fault, however. She just played the game. She probably realised it was an utterly absurd award and was cringing with embarrassment long before she stepped onto the podium to be “humiliated” by Dame Westwood’s brutally honest little speech.

But if your publicity people think it’s a great idea, and pictures of you looking pretty and poised and perfect yet again are going to circle the world’s media, why on earth would a girl refuse?

Neither is it Vivienne’s fault that when she stepped up to hand out the award, she didn’t recognise face nor name (which, by the way, she said in a much sweeter manner than has been reported).

Though it must be said she could have taken the trouble to find out. And if she didn’t agree with the presentation, she could always have pulled out.

Fact is, Viv was playing the publicity game, too. She got the Westwood brand in the spotlight AND a chance to take a side-swipe at the shallowness of an industry in which people are famous simply for being famous.