The small flap bags, totes and iPad cases in Westwood’s second Ethical Fashion Africa Collection (available on Yoox) are made of recycled materials: ‘old tent fabric, flip-flops, even bones,’ she told the Sunday Times Magazine.
To the designer, the project channels fashion’s obsession with the hottest, latest thing into an opportunity to stimulate local economies with eco-minded commerce.
‘What I do, making bags, can make a difference. This project gives people control over their lives—charity doesn’t give control, it does the opposite, it makes them dependant,’ she said in a press statement. ‘These people have more control over their lives and can therefore choose not to exploit the environment because they have an alternative way of making money.’
For the accompanying campaign, Teller shot Westwood in a rubbish tip. In one picture, locals watch as the designer poses in a heavily embroidered dress beside a model in a wedding gown; in another, she wears a tartan cape as she holds handbags out for inspection, market-trader style.
It’s jarring, but then it always is—Westwood has never shied away from controversy in her campaign images, personal life or collections, particularly when it draws attention to causes in which she believes. So it’s no surprise that she had something to say about the Duchess of Cambridge and her dress sense:
‘Let me put it this way. It seems to me, that her image is “ordinary woman.” Therefore, high-street shopper,’ Westwood told the Times. ‘And I just think she should be an extraordinary woman, wherever she gets her clothes from. It doesn’t mean you are elitist, it means you are an exceptional woman. Why not be exceptional? Your clothes communicate something about you.’