Runway News

VIVIENNE WESTWOOD, DESIGNER PROFILE

The fields of fashion and music have always been tightly intertwined; recently, Rolling Stone Keith Richards appeared in ad campaigns for Louis Vuitton, and Brit model Agyness Dean has been known to sing in several underground rock bands. 

 

However, it was English designer Dame Vivienne Westwood who most effectively combined the two worlds together, creating a look that defined a genre of music.

 

The woman who would later be considered a punk icon had a different start. Vivienne Isabel Swire was born April 8, 1941 in Twintwistle, a small village found in Derbyshire, England.  At seventeen, she moved to London to attend Harrow Art School.  By the time she was 21, she had married a man named Derek Westwood and began working as an elementary school teacher.

 

In 1965, after three years of marriage and one son, the couple called it quits.  Soon after, Westwood met a man named Malcolm McClaren, with whom she had another son.   

In 1971, Westwood quit her job as a teacher when McClaren opened up a clothing store called “Let it Rock” on Kings Road.  The couple designed clothing for the shop, sparking interest in the younger generation interested in American rock and roll music.  However, after a trip to New York, McClaren became inspired by the glam clothing of the New York Dolls.  Soon, Let it Rock began to sell raunchier, deconstructed clothing, and the store was renamed SEX.

 


Westwood continued to design and sell clothes of this style – S&M inspired leather, traditional tartan, chains, safety pins and spikes –  and in 1975 it caught the eye of an up and coming band that McClaren was managing.  The band, eventually known as the Sex Pistols, wore Westwoods’ designs to their gigs, inspiring a new generation of rebellious youth in London – and thus, the punk movement was born.

 

Westwood expanded her collection into a signature label that is available in several stores across England today.  She also became a staple at fashion weeks around the world, showcasing her regular Vivienne Westwood line along with her Gold Label, Red Label and Anglomania lines. 

She has also won several prestigious fashion awards, including British Designer of the Year from the British Fashion Council.

 

Even after the punk movement died down, she has continued to find ways to provoke the regular rules of fashion – from ridiculously high heels down the catwalk (responsible for Naomi Campbell’s infamous tumble) to publically admitting she doesn’t wear underwear.

Never one to blend in, Vivienne Westwood’s career has remained as bold as the orange hair on her head.

Photos courtesy of the Fashion Spot forums.

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