Jemima Khan interviews Vivienne Westwood: does fashion matter?

“Prince Charles is my hero – and Robert Fisk and Lily Cole” says Vivienne Westwood.

Vivienne Westwood (centre) in Paris, 30 September 2011. Photo: Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty.

Why does fashion matter?
I don't know if it matters. I always used to wriggle out of the question "Is fashion art?" - Jake Chapman accused me of being bourgeois because I assumed an artist ought to have skill. For most people it is not about fashion, it's about everyone looking the same, it's about consumption. I tend not to like an awful lot of what is going out under my name now because it is just all product. Who needs it? I like my Gold Label, the one that I do. The rest of my stuff comes from very talented people - and I ought not to have said what I have just said - who go to the archive and just rework it.

What about the dark side of the fashion industry - the anorexic models, for example?
It's not true that these models are all anorexic. They are just young girls who happen to be thin. When they get older they put on a bit of weight or muscle, but maybe the [critics] are right: we shouldn't have these young ones.

You said religion is the scourge of the world -
I didn't say that and I don't think it is. No, at one point I was very, very anti-religious and I guess I still am, but there is a lot more to it. Being part of a community with a church at its centre and singin' hymns is a great thing to do.

So what is the greatest evil?
I have been asked what would I ban immediately if I could. Advertising.

Do you advertise?
Yes. Only because everyone else has to and I do enjoy working with this photographer, Juergen Teller. He really does give your clothes a story.

Do you have any fashion heroes?
My husband, Andreas. Oh God, it is difficult working with him, he is such a perfectionist. I learn more from him than he does from me.

Who are your other heroes?
James Lovelock: he is as great a genius as Einstein or Darwin. His theory is a more complete theory of evolution than Darwin's. It is only another ten years at the outside to actually stop climate change. Prince Charles is definitely my hero; he uses his position to do only good in this world. And Robert Fisk. And Lily Cole.

Why did you call yourself an anti-feminist?
I don't think I did, but I am against feminists. If you see everything from the point of view of women being victims in some way, you don't see the wood for the trees. It is better to be a person than a woman.

Are you disappointed by Barack Obama?
Yes. He did do his health-care thing, but since the first month of his presidency the word "climate" never passed his lips, and I think this is criminal. We are in incredible danger and it is a secret and everyone conspires in it.

Which politicians do you like?
I don't follow politics much. I am glad they took Ed Miliband instead of David Miliband for the Labour Party. I think he is sincere.

Are you a Labour supporter?
I don't think there is any difference between the two parties. Tony Blair showed us that - that Labour isn't Labour any more.

Do you vote?
Yes, always, yes.

Who do you dislike politically?
I was very much against Margaret Thatcher when she was in power but I don't see she's any worse than Tony Blair.

How will you vote in the next election?
Not sure. I thought I would never vote Labour again but I might vote for Ed Miliband. I'd vote for anybody who mentions climate change.

You were at Julian Assange's 40th birthday. Are you a supporter?
He is an absolute hero. It is just dragging on so that people will forget about him and then they just do what they like. I wonder whether there are people carrying the flag for him still. I feel very sorry for Bradley Manning.

Is there anything you would like to forget?
No. But as a parent you should really try to understand what your children need from you more. I gave my kids what I could give them - which was lots of freedom and ideas and politics - and maybe they just wanted to be put first all the time.

It sounds like there's a bit of regret?
Yes, and I do feel that time passes so quickly. I was just bored, sitting by paddling pools and trying to read a book and all that kind of stuff. Your children are a responsibility and [you] owe it to them to look after them properly.

But you are very close to your sons?
Yes, we do tell each other the truth.

Are we all doomed?
I read this interview of Lovelock's about four years ago and he said that by the end of this century, in his opinion, there would be about one billion people left.