10 MEETS CORA CORRÉ, WHO WEARS LOUBOUTIN
For someone who’s just got home from Glasto, Cora Corré is surprisingly merry when she joins me over Zoom for this interview. Fresh-faced, with a wide smile, she’s feeling pretty smug about not getting sucked into a week-long bender. A film she created alongside Nick Knight’s SHOWstudio and the Refugee Council, in defiance of the UK government’s unlawful Rwanda immigration scheme, was screened across the festival’s West Holts stage.
“The UK government has wrongly weaponised refugees and people seeking asylum, denying the thousands who are fleeing conflict, violence and persecution the support and protection which are basic human rights, to push forward harmful new bills in parliament,” she wrote on Instagram, striving to amplify the voices of those affected by the broken asylum system.
But it wasn’t all work no play for Corré, who namechecks Elton John and Central Cee as her favourite acts of the weekend. “I was super sensible, though,” she says.“My mum was calling me Saffy from Ab Fab because I was constantly making sure all my mates were drinking enough water.”
Throughout her life, Corré, has always been wise beyond her years. Her adolescence was spent mostly surrounded by adults. Her parents, Serena Rees MBE and Joseph Corré, co-founders of pioneering lingerie brand Agent Provocateur, and her grandmother, Dame Vivienne Westwood, taught her to fight for what she believes in. But coming from such a prestigious fashion lineage has often weighed heavy on the 26 year old. “When I was younger, I didn’t want to do anything creative. I thought I wanted to be a banker at one point,” she says. “As a teenager, there are all these heavy decisions about what you’re going to do, there’s so much pressure early on. Your grades dictate more than what your drives and wider passions consist of.”
In the wake of Westwood’s passing last December, Corré has found herself increasingly in the public eye. She spoke eloquently at her grandmother’s memorial and headed to Paris to close the first Westwood show following her death in March – joining Vivienne’s partner in work and life, Andreas Kronthaler, for a teary bow.
“I felt like there was so much love in the room, the incredible Westwood team and how supportive they were,” she recalls of the show, where she wore a bridal- inspired Westwood corset and the late designer’s signature sky-high boots. “It was so touching, and a really special moment.”
It wasn’t her first Westwood catwalk moment, of course. Corré unofficially kicked off her successful modelling career in 2001, aged four, when she walked alongside model Veruschka von Lehndorff on the Westwood catwalk in Paris in a tiger-print frock. (The following year, a portrait of Westwood and Corré, in matching renditions of the dress, would appear in the National Portrait Gallery.) “I just remember I was really shy and hid behind my hat. My grandma came out and held my hand. It was like a full- circle moment in the most recent show because I felt like she was holding my hand, too.”
Corré has inherited her humanitarianism from her trailblazing gran, who long used fashion, and her stature within the industry, to drive home change and educate on causes she fearlessly believed in, particularly the end of fracking and the urgency of the climate emergency. “She’s someone who really inspired me through conversations we had around being yourself and sticking to your guns,” says Corré. “She never adhered to the latest trend, there was always a far bigger message – that’s something I’ve really taken on. I feel lucky to have had her as a grandmother and a teacher.”
Alongside her father, Joe, and her uncle, Ben Westwood, Corré has thrown herself into carrying on the legacy of her grandmother with The Vivienne Foundation. Divided into four pillars – climate change, stop war, defend human rights and protest capitalism – Corré's priority now, she says, is “trying to educate and bring people to an understanding of why these factors are interlinked”.
She continues: “Protest capitalism is something that Vivienne used to call the rotten financial system, which is basically profited off by war,oil sources and energy sources. We live in a time where people tend to look at the news, which can be obviously very depressing, and decide to get on with their normal day-to-day lives, which is totally understandable. But they are detached from what’s going on in the world. There are heavy conversations to be had.”
The scope of her activism is vast. Upon leaving school, she worked with the United Nations to co-ordinate a non-profit scheme to propel the next generation of women leaders from marginalised communities. During the pandemic, she turned to her fashion roots to co-design a limited-edition clothing range for Centre Point, with all proceeds going towards fighting youth homelessness. She’s dedicated her social media platforms to raising awareness on a myriad of global issues, from growing CO2 emissions and human rights abuses in Yemen to the Western media’s racial bias regarding covering the Ukraine war in comparison to ongoing conflicts across the world. “The distinct lack of coverage and public empathy for wars in non-European countries perpetuates the idea that these lives are not worthy of protection,” she wrote on Instagram. “What is the real difference between people fleeing war and persecution in Ukraine to those in Afghanistan?”
She says she wants to create a platform which serves as a timeline of various current affairs; a place where people can have open discussions and learn of the injustices that flood – and are often manipulated – through our news streams.
When we speak, the The Vivienne Foundation is on the brink of launching a partnership with vintage fashion haven Byronesque, which will promote buying second- hand: just one of Westwood’s mantras that Corré is committed to carrying forward. “[Vivienne] left us with a very long list of things to be getting on with. I just know that her activism is truly what she lived for. I’m motivated to continue honouring her fight for justice.”
An only child, Corré describes herself as being “a bit of a hermit” who finds comfort in her own company. “You could honestly leave me alone on an island for about six months. I cherish my alone time, which usually consists of sitting in bed [shopping] on eBay.” When we speak, she’s particularly chuffed with her last purchase of a black halterneck Westwood dress which is a direct replica of a khaki-hued frock she remembers her mum wearing through her youth.
She describes her style as tomboyish, but revels in any opportunity where she’s able to get properly dressed up. I wonder, hailing from a fashion dynasty, does she have any style regrets? “There was this really hideous headband I used to wear. Oh, and this neon American Apparel hoodie I used to live in.” Trying to self-dye her hair blonde in her teens has also left her mentally scarred: “I decided to go to Boots because my parents told me, ‘Never dye your hair lighter because it’s so dark.’ So rebelling like teens do, I bought two boxes of the blondest hair dye I could find. That wasn’t a very fun moment.”
While it might be a surprise to some, Corré's collection of Westwood isn’t as broad as you might think. “People probably assume I have more of an incredible fashion archive than I do,” she says. In her own wardrobe, it’s the hand-me-downs from her mother and grandmother that prove the most precious. “My favourite pieces from my grandma are the ones from her own wardrobe, but they’re definitely the most special because she is someone who, although obviously was a fashion designer, she had a lot fewer clothes than you would imagine.”
As her activist work continues to expand, Corré says she’s never been more sure that she’s travelling on the right path. “Only in the past two years have I really come into my own, being confident and knowing what I want. I’ve began to believe in myself.” Headstrong, she’s right where she’s meant to be.
Issue 722 of 10 Magazine – FASHION, ICON, DEVOTEE – is on newsstands now.
CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN: STEP UP
Photographer DAVID HUGHES
Fashion Editor SOPHIA NEOPHITOU
Text PAUL TONER
Talent CORA CORRE at Tess Management
Hair HIROSHI MATSUSHITA using Oribe
Make-up ANDREW GALLIMORE at Of Substance using Augustinus Bader and Surratt Beauty
Manicurist SASHA GODDARD at Saint Luke Artists using Dior manicure collections and Miss Dior hand cream
Photographer’s assistants GUY ISHERWOOD and BEN MACONEL
Fashion assistants GEORGIA EDWARDS, SONYA MAZURYK and TARYN SNYDER
Hair assistant ASHLEY HILL
Production ZAC APOSTOLOU
Shoes throughout by CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN. Earrings throughout from the estate of Dame Vivienne Westwood.