Pin It
Vivienne Westwood as Margaret Thatcher on Tatler, April 1989Photography Michael Robert

Vivienne Westwood on that time she dressed up as Thatcher

In an exclusive excerpt from a just-published volume of the designer’s diaries, Dame Viv reflects on one of her most controversial moments

Remember when we told you that you could soon read Vivienne Westwood’s diaries? Well, they’ve arrived – out this week, the 450+ page Get a Life! is a look inside the mind of the legendary designer, from shooting a campaign in Africa with Juergen Teller to visiting political outlier Julian Assange and taking trips to the Arctic. With entries beginning in 2010, the book is an up-close look at Westwood’s life and activism over the past six years, but also revists some famous past moments. Around the release of 2012’s The Iron Lady, she reminisces about the time she dressed up as Margaret Thatcher for a controversial (but brilliant) Tatler cover in 1989. Read it in an excerpt previewed below, and head to St James’ Church in London’s Piccadilly at 7pm tonight to hear Westwood discuss the book in person – more information here.


Years ago when she was in power, I impersonated Margaret Thatcher … the suit I wore had been ordered by Margaret Thatcher from Aquascutum, but she had then cancelled it. 

Margaret Thatcher was a hypocrite. That’s what I put in my head. I thought: there’s the child in the hospital bed and there’s the TV camera. I’m going to show the world how much I care. The photographer Michael Roberts was going mad with delight, ‘and it needs one more thing, you need to put a little doubt in your head, do they believe me?’ That’s how we got her. This cover for Tatler was blown up on billboards during London Fashion Week – even I had to look twice to believe it was me. One week later Tatler’s editor Emma Soames got the sack. I’ve never asked Emma if there was any connection. 

The Iron Lady is now a film. I don’t think it is going to show the real damage that she caused in the world. She helped to release financial madness and now the pyramid scheme has crashed. She’s definitely a woman of her time and our time. When will we wake up and take the long-term view? Financial crisis is a symptom and the herald of climate change – coming soon, apocalypse in 2020. When are we going to listen to the scientists?

Thatcher got the North Sea oil bonanza and used the money to help business. If I had really been Thatcher I would have used this wealth to reduce the size of classes in school. Education is the thing that could really enrich our country and surely all those extra teachers would help the circulation of money and wealth. You need heart and head to have vision and that’s why I call her a hypocrite: she did not care and used her status as a woman to pretend she did.

Get a Life! The Diaries of Vivienne Westwood is out now, published by Serpent’s Tail