Last Thursday I attended a lecture at Danson Manor House. I’d had it on my calendar for weeks since my aunt told me about the exhibition they were holding called ‘Cut From The Past’. As a self-taught writer and someone who has pretty much learnt on the job (through apprenticeships and work experience) I’ve not had the pleasure of going to many lectures in my lifetime so I was looking forward to seeing if it would inspire me the way I hoped it would.
The lecture was on Vivienne Westwood, but apart from that I knew nothing about the event and had no idea what to expect. My sister (Lydia) and I have grown up in the area and to be quite frank, it isn’t the most exciting or noteworthy location in the world – I simply figured it would make an interesting blog post! The manor house is situated in Danson Park, a place we both remember as young kids. It has recently been renovated – very grand and authentic, true to its times.
Upon our arrival we were shown up the stairs by Ian Kelly, the lecturer, and sent to our seats. The room was full of pensioners, minus the workers and one other young girl. Unaware of what was just around the corner, I became a little agitated waiting for the lecture to start. Looking for things to keep me occupied while I waited, I began studying the paintings, curtains and other features in this beautiful stately room.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw someone enter the room. Doing a double take and turning to my sister in a fit of confusion I said, “That woman really looks like Vivienne Westwood!”
Realising how ridiculous my comment sounded (after all, what would such a style icon be doing in Bexley of all places!?) we both awkwardly laughed and stopped staring. Almost immediately after I turned my gaze to the front of the room, THERE SHE WAS.
Vivienne Westwood was standing in front of us, introducing herself as a surprise visitor! My heart starting beating so hard, as if it was trying to escape my chest. The paper I held became stuck to my hands, which had clammed up out of utter excitement.
I whispered to my sister “O-M-G” while squeezing her leg and listened in awe, trying to take in everything she was saying. It was a short introduction:
“Hello everyone. I think I should introduce myself and say thank you for being here. I only found out about this exhibition this morning so I just had to come and see what it was all about”, said Westwood.
With that she took a seat at the back, alongside what I’m guessing is her PA and listened as Ian Kelly gave a (extremely justified) speech on how nervous he was about lecturing on the Vivienne Westwood now that she was actually here.
A million thoughts wandered through my mind as I multitasked, listening and writing notes on information that was coming quick and fast. When my mind settled a little, I got to really appreciate the words that were being read and the story of fashion that was being told.
Kelly started by linking himself personally to fashion and explaining why it interests him. He shone light onto the fact that much of Vivienne Westwood’s collections take inspiration from 18th and 20th Century art and walked us through these collections using visuals and quotes as reference points.
What I found most interesting were the explanations of why Westwood did/produced the things that she did. Unpicking what inspires Westwood and gaining a better understanding of her talent allowed me to tune into my inner creative. As Kelly spoke, I tried to relate my own working efforts and experiences to hers in the hope that it may enlightening me or somehow build my ambition.
Snapping back into journalist mode, I realised that things were wrapping up and that I hadn’t got a clear picture of the queen of fashion… who was just a metre or so behind me! Convincing myself that I may never have this chance again (surely she won’t be sticking around), I plucked up the courage to blatantly swivel on my chair and steal the opportunity to photographer her.
Luckily for me, she did stick around. She even came back up to the front and held a Q&A, not that anyone had any questions though (everyone was in still in either awe or shock). She quickly changed the subject and it became apparent that she was here to spread the word about something far more important than fashion: The Climate Exchange. It’s kind of something you have to hear for yourself, so below is a link to a video that almost mirrors exactly what she said to us that day.
Afterwards we dashed straight over to Westwood as quick as we could, without actually running, and asked if she would be happy to have a picture with us. She wasn’t keen on the iPhone and wanted the press to take them, but thankfully I did still get one (even though it’s not the most flattering of me) to take away.
I got to spend a short yet special time with her, in which I just spoke the WHOLE time about what an inspiration she is and how huge of a fan I am – I know right, cringe!? But I was almost lost for words and it was better than saying nothing at all.
Lydia and I finished up by heading upstairs to the exhibition to look at the work that had just been discussed. We did some networking and then went to the park to do some outfit shooting (which will be posted tomorrow, so stay tuned). Overall, I think it’s safe to say this was one of the BEST days of my life!
Have you met your idol before? Share your story with me using the comments section below! 🙂