As one of the most infamous labels in the world, Vivienne Westwood has flown the British flag in the world of fashion for over 30 years. With a distinctive style and flair that has proved to be unrivalled by any other brand, Vivienne Westwood has grown a stellar reputation for striking, premium design.
The unmistakable character behind the Vivienne Westwood label is the perfect reflection of its founders and leads designer’s personality and reputation. Here’s a swift guide to the history of Vivienne Westwood ; the legend was born in 1941, Vivienne Isabel Swire studied fashion and the art of the silversmith at the University of Westminster. She dropped out after just one term, and begun to work in factory whilst training as a teacher at college.The young Westwood turned fashion design into a hobby, and during her time working as a primary school teacher, she started to create and sell her own jewellery on Portobello Road market.
It wasn’t until 1971, when Westwood met Malcolm McLaren, that her fashion career really took flight. McLaren was a man of many talents. With a head full of ideas that he knew could take the punk scene that was steadily growing momentum in the country’s capital by storm, and his standing as manager of the now infamous band the Sex Pistols, McLaren and Westwood formulated a plan. McLaren bought a boutique store on London’s trendy Kings Road, calling it “Let It Rock” to tie in with the cities current punk fashion trend. With ideas that were inspired by everything from bikers to fetishes, McLaren provided the ideas and Westwood created them, filling the shop with designs that used everything from bikes chains to razor blades. It was a phase of British fashion that Westwood became obsessed with, as she managed to channel her rebellious streak into designs that were being seen and worn by London’s fashion pack. The notoriety of Westwood’s work increased sharply when McLaren asked her to create a wardrobe for his band, the Sex Pistols. Suddenly, Westwood’s designs were being seen on stages all over the country.
The punk phenomenon continued strongly into the 70’s, and Westwood carried on supplying the fashion movement with striking, shocking designs. However, the early 80’s saw the Punk trend fade fast, passing over the fashion forward pavements of the capital, they left Westwood as an icon of brave, avant-garde fashion design. This reputation gave Westwood the impetus to continue her fledgling career in fashion design. In 1981 she showed her first self-titled collection in London, calling it ‘Pirate’. The show was a huge success and to this day is still fondly remembered as one of the most ground breaking collections and presentations in modern fashion history. The intoxicating mix of striking design and unyielding commitment to breaking new ground continued in the years that followed, with more shows being displayed in Paris and Tokyo.
Despite changing the face and perception of designer fashion, Westwood’s design work took time in getting recognised. It wasn’t until 1990 that she was named British designer of the year, which coincidentally fell at the same time of her launching her very first ready to wear men’s collection in Florence.
The accolades continued to flow for Vivienne Westwood, claiming the British designer of the year award again in 1991, as well as an OBE for services to British fashion.
Never one to conform, Vivienne Westwood continues to install her own vein of unique style into her labels collections. Intricate details, and references to her past successes and roots in the punk era of cool are regularly noticeable in her ranges.
One of the few labels in the world to have ever truly caused a stir in the fashion industry, Vivienne Westwood clothing is crafted for those who want to stand out from the crowd. The iconic orb logo that adorns her designs is a symbol of fashionable freedom, whilst the look of any Vivienne Westwood piece always has a touch of unmistakable identity.
One of Britain’s great treasures, Vivienne Westwood constantly pays homage to her roots, using British wool’s, tweeds, tartans and linens in her designs to embody the vibrancy and heritage of Great British style. Forever an icon of rebellion, Vivienne Westwood continues to strive forward into outlandish and eye catching style, with each new collection providing a unique, intimately desirable aesthetic that still to this day can not be rivalled.
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Wrote by Samantha Carruthers