Focus: Fundraising - Liberty reaps benefit of Vivienne Westwood designs

Exclusive Vivienne Westwood T-shirts and baby suits are helping Liberty reach a new audience, writes Indira Das-Gupta.

When Vivienne Westwood was recently photographed at a Paris fashion show wearing the exclusive T-shirt she designed for Liberty, it generated the sort of publicity the charity could ordinarily only dream about.

Liberty initially contacted the designer to see if she would sign a petition against the introduction of control orders for terrorist suspects, which critics say constitute criminal punishment without trial.

"We were trying to contact as many well-known names as possible to try to get better press coverage," says Sabina Frediani, development officer for Liberty. "I contacted Vivienne because I knew she was political and had supported a campaign to free a man on death row in the US. But at the same time she hasn't supported many campaigns either. She agreed to sign up to the petition, then called us to say she felt strongly about human rights and offered to do anything she could to help."

Although Frediani admits luck played a part, because she had not anticipated how enthusiastic Westwood would be, she believes you make your own luck.

"There's no doubt that we have been lucky with Vivienne because she really believes in what we stand for, but it definitely pays to do your research first," she says. "We approach people we believe are likely to give us a positive response."

Following Westwood's call, a meeting was organised between the designer and Liberty's director, Shami Chakrabarti. Westwood offered to design a limited-edition T-shirt and all-in-one baby suit and donate all the profits to Liberty.

Frediani says: "I think it's important that Shami has taken the time to meet Westwood herself. It does take a lot of time to get the best out of a relationship with a celebrity."

As well as Westwood's appearance at a Paris fashion show, her husband, Andreas Kronthaler, was pictured wearing one of her T-shirts at the Swarovski Prince's Trust Fashion Rocks event broadcast on television last week.

Sales were pushed up immediately.

Its relationship with Westwood has enabled Liberty to reach audiences it would not normally get to. The designer's appearance in the Liberty T-shirt earned her a slot in celebrity magazine OK!, a first for the charity.

Ultimately, the key to the relationship between Liberty and Westwood is the same as with any other charity and a celebrity, says Frediani.

"Getting someone on board who is genuinely passionate about what you do is crucial," she says. "It means the relationship will develop smoothly."

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