It was a scene that certainly turned heads. Vivienne Westwood, 79, was dressed in yellow and locked in a giant bird cage outside England's Old Bailey court on Tuesday (July 21).
The reason? She was showing support for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who is fighting extradition from Britain to the US.
This is not Westwood's first political protest though. The seasoned fashion designer has a history of being a rebel. She is outspoken when it comes to a range of subjects – from environmental issues to animal welfare.
Her affinity for punk fashion (and its associated spirit of rebellion) was apparent in her early years. She once wore a T-shirt emblazoned with a bold red Nazi swastika, an inverted image of Christ on the cross, the word “Destroy, ” and Sex Pistols lyrics.
"We were just saying to the older generation, 'We don't accept your values or your taboos, and you're all fascists'," she said in a 2009 Time magazine interview, about how she never regretted the 1977 stunt.
Read more: Can fashion labels attract more shoppers by going 'green'?
The show notes for her Autumn/Winter 2015 runway presentation had the words "Vote Green" at the top. Her menswear show for the same season sent out models with severely bruised faces, which was said to be a look channelling eco-warriors on a mission to save the planet.
At the 2012 London Paralympics closing ceremony, Westwood unfurled a giant black-and-white “Climate Revolution" banner. In 2014, she appeared in a Peta video with just a shower cap, talking about the downsides of the meat industry.
Canary in a cage
Her most recent protest caused quite the major buzz. Images of her in the cage dressed in vivid yellow, as well as videos of her speech using a megaphone, spread quickly across social media.
“I am the canary in the coal mine” — Dame Vivienne Westwood suspended herself in the air inside a giant bird cage this morning in protest against the extradition of Julian Assange pic.twitter.com/rf74x9V53W— Elizabeth Paton (@LizziePaton) July 21,2020
"I am Julian Assange," Westwood said. "I am the canary in the cage. If I die down the coal mine from poisonous gas, that's the signal."
Assange is wanted by US authorities to stand trial for 18 offences including conspiring to hack government computers and espionage.
Last year, the US began extradition proceedings after he was dragged from London's Ecuadorean embassy where he had been holed up for almost seven years.
Assange made international headlines in early 2010 when WikiLeaks published a classified US military video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters in Baghdad that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters news staff.
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