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“Leonardo da Vinci” Lifetime Achievement Award (for Design)

The Florence Biennale awarded the famous English designer and activist Vivienne Westwood the “Leonardo da Vinci” Lifetime Achievement Award (for Design) on the occasion of the XIII edition (23-31 October 2021, Fortezza da Basso, Florence). She received the Award “in recognition of a revolutionary creative production that has marked the history of fashion design over the past fifty years, changing and expanding the concept of femininity, and for designing and promoting innovative campaigns with the aim of protecting life on our Mother Earth”.

On the occasion of the XIII Florence Biennale, a dedicated exhibition space retraced the main stages of her career, with particular attention to her campaigns in defense of human rights and the environment.
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"Letter-SOS to save the planet"

While thanking the Florence Biennale management, Vivienne Westwood wanted to read, in English and Italian, the "Letter-SOS to save the planet".

This is the full text: "The word World Economy means 'management of the HOME'. Mother Earth is our home, so on a global scale, economy equals sustainability. We do not have it. We have no future. Our financial system is based on perpetual wars, trade wars and competition; it is the cause of climate change. Wars are fought over territory and cheap labour. The real economy is based on the value of land. "The land belongs to no one. We are its custodians. A contribution should be made to the public purse for the use of the land, a huge untapped revenue. NO TAXES! All other transactions from man to man. Cooperation not competition. Fair distribution of wealth. I have a plan to save the world that can work because I have analysed the problem and I have the solution. My team, Climate Revolution, has started the campaign for an Earth-based economy through reforestation; we aim to create wilderness corridors. We are asking for the cooperation of the government".
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Short biography of Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood began designing in 1971 along with her then partner Malcolm McLaren in London. At the time they used their shop at 430 Kings Road, London, to showcase their ideas and designs. With their changing ideas of fashion came the change of not only the name of the shop but also the décor. It was in 1976 when Westwood and McLaren defined the street culture of Punk with Seditionaries.

By the end of the seventies Vivienne Westwood was already considered a symbol of the British avant-garde and for Autumn/Winter 1981 she showed her first catwalk presentation at Olympia in London. Westwood then turned to traditional Savile Row tailoring techniques, using British fabrics and 17th and 18th century art for inspiration.
1989 was the year that Vivienne met Andreas Kronthaler, who would later become her husband and long-time design partner, as well as Creative Director of the brand. In 2004 the Victoria & Albert museum, London, hosted a Vivienne Westwood retrospective exhibition to celebrate her then 34 years in fashion – the largest exhibition ever devoted to a living British fashion designer. In 2006, her contribution to British Fashion was officially recognised when she was appointed Dame of the British Empire by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and in 2007 was awarded the ‘Outstanding Achievement in Fashion’ at the British Fashion Awards in London.
Vivienne Westwood is one of the last independent global fashion companies in the world. At times thought provoking, this brand is about more than producing clothes and accessories. Westwood continues to capture the imagination, and raise awareness of environmental and human rights issues. With a design record spanning over forty years, Vivienne Westwood is now recognized as a global brand and Westwood herself as one of the most influential fashion designers, and activists, in the world today.

Designer and activist

Vivienne Westwood was born in 1941 and moved to London 17 years later. She began designing in 1971 along with her then partner, Malcolm McLaren, when London was at the forefront of cultural trends. In 1984 she launched her own fashion line and in 2004 the V&A hosted a Vivienne Westwood retrospective exhibition to celebrate her 34 years in fashion – the largest exhibition ever devoted to a living British fashion designer. In 2006, her contribution to British Fashion was officially recognised when she was appointed Dame of the British Empire by her majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Vivienne Westwood have always used their collections and catwalk shows as a platform to campaign for positive activism. Vivienne has spent many years tirelessly speaking out about the effects of climate change and over-consumption and has mobilised international attention around ecological crusading.
In 2012 Vivienne inaugurated the ‘Climate Revolution’ at the London Paralympics closing ceremony and continues to rally charities, NGO’s and individuals to join forces and to take action against disengaged political leaders and big business. She is also a Trustee of human rights organization Liberty and patron of Reprieve and is also a campaigner for Amnesty International and War Child.

For a number of years Vivienne Westwood, through a number of campaigns, catwalk shows and fundraising projects have actively supported the charity in their efforts to save the rainforest and stop climate change. Cool Earth works with local communities to halt rainforest destruction. This ground-up approach has been proven to be the most effective way to mitigate the effects of global carbon emissions on climate change. By putting local people first, Cool Earth can safeguard the future of the world’s rainforests. In 2013, Vivienne and Andreas Kronthaler travelled to visit the Asháninka rainforest project that they have funded, and following a week spent living with a tribe in the Peruvian Amazon, whilst Vivienne lobbied the Peruvian government on their Forestry Programme.
Over the last 20 years Vivienne has also campaigned and fundraised for the Environmental Justice Foundation and Friends of the Earth– amongst hundreds of other grass roots charities and campaigners. She is also an ambassador for Greenpeace and in 2013 designed their official ‘Save the Artic’ logo and in 2015 launched a global campaign to stop drilling and industrial fishing in the area.

Since 2011 Vivienne Westwood have joined forces with the International Trade Centre– a joint body of the UN, to produce bags through their Ethical Fashion Initiative. The programme currently supports the work of thousands of women from marginalized African communities and empowers informal manufacturers and craftspeople to enter the international value chain – providing an income for some of the poorest people in the world. The collections are created using recycled materials from slums and land fill and the income helps to stop the need to continue deforestation in the area.

In September 2017, Vivienne Westwood, along with the British Fashion Council, and support from the London Majors office, launched the SWITCH to Green campaign to bring the fashion industry together to lead in ambitious climate action. The ongoing campaign encourages industry leaders to commit to SWITCH all UK offices and stores to a green energy supplier. In 2018 Vivienne Westwood was awarded with the Positive Change award at the British Fashion Awards for her global campaigning work within the industry.
Vivienne has written her ideas in a Manifesto called “Active Resistance to Propaganda”. The AR Manifesto is rooted in culture as the stimulus to save the planet for the future. Using her graphics, Vivienne has designed a set of playing cards as a cultural led -economic strategy to save the world. These campaigns and philosophies are recorded in:

Photo by TheFactory