Every fashion student should pay homage to the protagonists that instilled majesty and innovation to the world of art and fashion. One such titan is Vivienne Westwood.
Born in 1941, Vivienne Isabel Swire’s family had moved from Tintwistle to London in 1958, where Vivienne studied fashion and gold-working at the Harrow School of Art. After her marriage to Derek Westwood and their first born son, she had a relationship with Malcolm McLaren and, together in 1971, opened their first store in London – The Let lt Rock.
It was one of the first alternative shops, and following the designers’ stylistic evolution, the changed the name on the sign. Today, the store is recognised by a big clock that turns the opposite way.
In the 70s, Vivienne contributed to the punk style with aggravated nuances in her creations. Her first runway show was in London in 1981, presenting the Pirate Collection. The patterns were inspired by street fashion and the world of youth.
After, her stylistic research was then sparked by 17th and 18th century period costume, pioneering her as the first contemporary designer to reintroduce the corset and the faux-cul.
As Vivienne would later recall, her childhood years were far from London’s high life. “I lived in a part of the country that had grown up in the Industrial Revolution,” she once said. “I didn’t know about art galleries… I’d never seen an art book, never been to the theatre.” And yet, so much creativity was bubbling inside of her.
In one famous incident, she impersonated Margaret Thatcher on the cover of a British magazine. To do so, she wore a suit Thatcher had ordered but not yet received, an act that had offended the Iron Lady.
Westwood has received a lot of recognition over the years – from British designer of the year to being awarded an OBE. An exhibit has also been dedicated to her works.
In the first Sex and the City movie, Carrie wore a Vivienne Westwood wedding dress.
In 2008, Brazilian brand Melissa created the line Anglomania, designed by the eccentric Vivienne Westwood. Melissa is famous for its injection moulding of brave plastic shoes and accessories.
In the last few years, she’s collaborated with Manga Nana, presenting rings and objets d’art signed by the designer herself.
Westwood is now in her sixties, mother millionaire businesswoman, happily married to a man 25 years her junior. During a recent interview, she said, “I do feel I’m fighting against conformity.” She is a tenacious and provocative woman, but is also full of humanity. She’s recently announced that she’ll be making a donation of £1 million to rain-forest charity Cool Earth.