October 20, 2014

Vivienne Westwood accused of plagiarism in her memoir


Designer Vivienne Westwood is in trouble for alleged plagiarism in her memoir. ©360b / via Shutterstock

Designer Vivienne Westwood is in trouble for alleged plagiarism in her memoir.
©360b / via Shutterstock

The grand dame of punk fashion and designer of Pharrell’s hat, Dame Vivienne Westwood, is facing accusations of plagiarism. Adam Sherwin reports for the Independent that a writer is alleging that large sections of her recently released memoir Vivienne Westwood were lifted from his own book.

Paul Gorman is the author of The Look: Adventures in Rock and Pop Fashion, published in 2001, and he says that no fewer than twenty-nine passages were lifted wholesale by Westwood and her co-writer Ian Kelly. For example, he points to a paragraph from his book in which he quotes Malcolm McLaren — Westwood’s onetime lover and business partner — explaining the appropriation of the beatnik look by teenagers. “The paragraph appears almost verbatim in Westwood’s book,” per the Independent, “with the words ‘explains Vivienne’ around the quote.”

Gorman tells the Telegraph, “I greatly admire Vivienne’s achievements but she has been let down badly by her publisher by this sloppy book.” He allows that he is cited in the footnotes in several places, but there are numerous sections for which he’s not properly credited, as well as photos that aren’t credited to photographers.

Gorman’s not the only person to take issue with Westwood’s memoir. Sex Pitsols frontman John Lydon responded to her claim that she came up with the idea for “Anarchy in the UK,” telling the Independent: “The silly cow is claiming she had the idea for ‘Anarchy’? What a f****** liberty. That’s audacity of the highest order. Go back to making frocks.” There are also reports of libel in the book, from British magazine Private Eye, and numerous spelling mistakes, such as “Jimmy” Hendrix and Pete “Townsend.”

Neither Westwood nor her publisher, Picador, responded to requests for comment.


Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.