Congratulations, well done and arise now Katharine Hamnett! The Queen pinned a medal onto the legendary women’s and menswear designer, textile innovator and long-serving campaigner for human and environmental rights’ chest yesterday.
Predictably, because she was face to face with her majesty the Queen, some people have complained that her choice of headwear was a teeny touch de trop; too many feathers and too dazzling a shade of crimson.
Well, we say – Katharine Hamnett is a bit of a legend when it comes to a very civilised kind of protest – she is a well-mannered rebel and that has long been her USP. She was famous for her brilliant slogan tee shirts – like CHOOSE LIFE and many political slogans against injustice such as WORLDWIDE NUCLEAR BAN NOW, PRESERVE THE RAINFORESTS, SAVE THE WORLD, SAVE THE WHALES, EDUCATION NOT MISSILES that she says herself were ‘designed to be copied’ – which they were from then till the present – including by Henry Holland with his neon designs in de-politicised fashion fan guise.
The most well-known scenario of KH was her visit to the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher wearing a huge grin and an oversized slogan tee bearing the script 58% DON’T WANT PERSHING in 1984 (we think this refers to some kind of defence spending on weapons that Thatcher was intent on while shutting down Britain’s public services)
She has always been like that – radical but at the same time familiar with the establishment, because she is so well brought up, went to Cheltenham Ladies College (amongst other schools around the world) and of course, because her talents as a fashion designer gave her a media platform from which she could espouse her causes.
We bet she had mixed feelings about receiving such an award from the Queen, and she had this to say to reporters on the subject - 'It's quite funny, I'm respectable at last.
'I kind of tend to pooh-pooh these kind of things but at the same time it's frightening how nice it is.
'It's seductive. And my friends have been adorable about it.' Maybe that explains her choice of hat – so she could be polite and subversive at the same time. . .
Her latest activist project was her collaboration with London department store Selfridges called 'Project Ocean' which is all about raising awareness about over-fishing and the general state of the oceans – how there may be ‘No More Fish In the Sea’ for future generations. She is a legend.