Vivienne Westwood

I met Vivienne Westwood on the night I graduated from Northumbria University. It was the Summer of 1987. She had been appearing on a panel discussion in Newcastle. I was in the audience and we met at the drinks reception afterwards. We hit it off immediately. She invited me to work for her. It was an incredible experience. Her company was small. A handful of employees - including her son Joe Corre who was then her business manager – were working from her small Camden studio. She was – and still is – very hands on. In the middle of the night she gave me a drawing of a rams head, a length of gold lame and asked me to make what she called a ‘golden fleece’. As the sun came up the following morning it was nearing completion. Watching Vivienne designing, making, inventing and pulling the show together is an experience I will never forget.

Celia Birtwell

I interviewed Ossie Clark for a feature I was writing for the Evening Standard. His star was, by this time, on the descendant but the talent was still intact. I saw Celia in her jewel of a shop on Westbourne Park Road. I was aware of her legacy as a textile designer but was only later I learnt about her ‘other’ life as muse to David Hockney and her invaluable contribution to Ossie Clark’s creations. Ossie called her a ‘true artist’ and she is. We worked together on the Ossie Clark Retrospective in Warrington where I wrote the brochure. I contributed to her recent book which charts her life and career by Quadrille. She’s endlessly inspiring, full of incredible insights, very funny, ageless. As I often say to her ‘what an honour to be the muse to two geniuses’. Namely Ossie Clark and David Hockney.

Jean Muir

Referred to everyone in her orbit as ‘Miss Muir’, Jean Muir was an erudite, extraordinary woman who had many facets to her personality. I was privileged to work with her in both her all-white London Flat overlooking the Albert Hall and her elegant, colourful home in the Northumbrian countryside. We met for the first time when I was at British Vogue. Although I was, and remain, a huge Westwood fan, my final collection at college was based on the Jean Muir woman. I analysed her customers who were a mix of artists, literary figures, politicians, and actresses. Absolutely assured when it came to taste, but less confident with her writing, she asked me to assist her with her speeches. She had, by then, been appointed the Master for the Faculty for Royal Designers for Industry.