Vivienne Westwood’s memoir, co-authored by Ian Kelly, has plenty of juicy bits about the designer’s life and work, but this latest story to come from the tome may be one of the juiciest. Author Paul Gorman says the designer and Kelly plagiarized up to 40 passages from his 2001 book, The Look: Adventures in Rock and Pop Fashion, for the new memoir. Gorman claims that his words were taken, sometimes verbatim, without crediting his original work, though he does say there are passages with proper attribution.
Gorman’s beef isn’t with Westwood, however. It’s with Kelly and the publisher. Quotes that came from his book have been attributed as Westwood’s own. The wording of one particular passage, he says, bears a strong resemblance to a line from the introduction to his book written by Malcolm McLaren 13 years ago. And indeed, the similarities are quite glaring. The Telegraph explains: “On page 10 of The Look, McLaren writes: ‘Sex translated in fashion becomes fetish, and fetishism is the very embodiment of youth.’ On page 161 of Vivienne Westwood a near-identical quote is attributed to Westwood by Ian Kelly, claims Gorman: ‘Sex, Vivienne tells me, translated into fashion becomes fetish. And fetishism — the exhilarating liminal space between life-affirming sex, and death is the very embodiment of youth’s assumption to mortality.'” Oops!
That’s a little too close for comfort. It seems that Gorman’s work inspired Kelly so much, he either didn’t realize he was lifting copy or he simply didn’t think anyone would notice. It’s also quite surprising that this would happen, especially since Kelly had Westwood, the ultimate primary source, helping him put the book together. If he needed a quote, we’re pretty sure it would have been no trouble at all for Westwood to provide one. She is, after all, the number one expert on her own life.