Vivienne Westwood's London

Designer Vivienne Westwood rides her bicyle down in front of a double-decker bus in London....

Designer Vivienne Westwood rides her bicyle down in front of a double-decker bus in London. (Courtesy of CTV)

HEATHER TOSKAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:05 AM ET

ENGLAND - London's calling. Fasten your seat belt, settle back in your chair and prepare for takeoff.

Whether you're London bound or bound to your livingroom, a short but passionate trip through the cultural and historical sights and sounds of London can be as easy as tuning in to a television documentary called Vivienne Westwood's London, which premieres Jan. 22, 2011 at 7 p.m. on CTV.

The documentary features the iconic fashion designer and London native herself as its host. Although the esteemed designer is best known for bringing punk and new wave fashions into the mainstream in the 1970s, the documentary has little to do with fashion but lots of the sights, sounds and culture of the city that inspires her.

"I love this city and its culture. I want to encourage people to love art and believe that culture can save the world. Culture is about people's outlook on the world and along with art, is the anchor that holds us together as a people and gives life greater meaning," Westwood says.

If you choose to follow Westwood's lead, you'll find many areas to explore, including Brixton in South London. Now the heart of the city's African-Caribbean community, visitors can trip down Electric Avenue, so-named as it was the first street in London to be electrically lit.

The tour also goes to White Chapel in East London, where you can stroll along the once notorious Hanbury Street and other avenues that were once the prime stalking grounds of Jack the Ripper.

History buffs may also feel a tingle during a visit to Hampton Court Palace, which was home to King Henry VIII, known for beheading his enemies. Ghosts are said to walk the halls. If you go, take a stab at finding your way out of its historic maze.

Those in search of the past will also find it in the private walk-abouts Westwood gives through renowned art galleries such as The Courtauld Gallery and The Wallace Collection, and a trip to the normally closed rehearsal of The London Symphony Orchestra at Barbican Hall.

Sights of Saint Paul's Cathedral, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, Chelsea streetscapes, a stop at a favourite eatery and the legendary Borough Market for food may also inspire travel plans.

Finally, although Westwood advocates non-consumerism through "shopping less but shopping better," she offers the names of a few vintage markets she recommends to those hoping to pick up a little something while in London.

WESTWOOD'S MARKET TIPS

-- Alfies Antique Market, 13-25 Church St.

-- Vintage Fashion Fairs held monthly in Hammersmith Town Hall and also in the Battersea Arts Centre (BAC) in Lavender Hill. Fairs at the BAC take place every three months, Westwood says.

-- Portobello Road Antiques Market, 288 Portobello Rd. Reportedly the largest antiques market in the world, it's open every Friday.

-- Radio Days, 87 Lower Marsh St., a vintage shop in Waterloo.

heather.toskan@sunmedia.ca


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