WHO IS VIVIENNE WESTWOOD?
Vivienne Westwood has been a pioneer and disruptor in the fashion industry for years, but few know the details of her career rise. At the age of 17, Westwood and her family moved to Middlesex, where she took a jewelry and silversmith course at the Harrow Art School. She dropped out under the impression that she would never make it in the art world. So, she became a primary school teacher and made jewelry on the side.
She married and soon after divorced Derek Westwood, with whom she had one child. Westwood then met Malcolm McLaren, and for lack of better words, the rest is history. In 1971, McLaren owned a shop on King’s Road in London called Let it Rock, in which he had Vivienne design the clothing for. The King’s Road shop would change name according to what McLaren and Westwood were resonating with at the time. In 1972, Let it Rock became Too Fast To Live, Too Young to Die, its focus being 1960s rock and fashion culture. In 1974, the shop became SEX, selling fetish and bondage gear along with t-shirts with unorthodox imagery, such as gay cowboys and swastikas. After SEX came Seditionaries in 1976, after the band Sex Pistols, in which McLaren managed. Seditionaries would be the last storefront McLaren and Westwood ran together. The King’s Road store is still standing to this day, but under the name World’s End. After the closing of Seditionaries, McLaren and Westwood continued to work together, their first runway show being 1981/82 F/W titled “Pirate”. They also came out with “Savage” and “Punkature”.
McLaren and Westwood pioneered the punk movement in Britain, their ideals and clothing perfectly reflecting what it meant to be punk: the changing of their storefront and aesthetic every year or two, the taboo imagery on shirts…
It was after Westwood and McLaren’s split that she decided to go solo in the fashion industry. Her first collection titled “Clint Eastwood”, shown in F/W 1984/95, took inspiration from Clint Eastwood western films and the Wild West. In her early days of showing collections, Westwood was heavily influenced by a variety of historical times, characters, and fashions. In 2000, her focus changed to be more fabric and fit based. Nevertheless, she continued to push the boundaries in fashion.
Now, Vivienne Westwood is one of the most well known names in the fashion industry. She is a climate and social activist, using her platform to raise awareness of topics and issues she is passionate about. However, some may call hypocrite on Westwood, as she is berating the very industry she profits from. But that’s punk, isn’t it?
“What I’m doing now, it is still punk - it’s still about shouting about injustice and making people think, even if it’s uncomfortable. I’ll always be a punk in that sense.”
Shop our exclusive Seditionaries Collection below, as well as more iconic pieces from Westwood.
Collectible 1978 Vivienne Westwood/ Malcolm McLaren Yellow Cowboy T-Shirt
Collectible 1977 Vivienne Westwood/Malcolm McLaren Destroy Muslin Top