Revealing: Vivienne Westwood

And the winner is the Queen of Punk !

Dame Vivienne Westwood ( yes, dame! By the Order of the British Empire), member of the “Royal Designers for Industry” was born on 8 April 1941 ( as Vivienne Isabel Swire)  in Glossopdale, a little city in Derbyshire, England.
After the World War II, her family moved to the village of Tintwistle, in the same county.
Her life would change enormously by the age of 17 , when she moved to north-west London.
Then,  Vivienne briefly attended Harrow Art College. She studied fashion and silversmithing, but left after a term because  as she said ‘I didn’t know how a working-class girl like me could possibly make a living in the art world’. She worked in a factory and then become a primary school teacher. In 1962 she married Derek Westwood and in 1963 her first son was born.


In 1965 she met Malcolm Mclaren ( the manager of Sex Pistols)  and her marriage with Derek ended.
Their son born in the next year. From this relationship has also born some icons of the Punk style!

In 1971 Westwood and McLaren opened a shop called “Let it rock”  selling ‘Teddy Boy’ clothes .at Paradise Garage, Chelsea
In 1974 they moved further down the road to apoen a rubber and leather fetish wear store named “SEX”.
Later, the store was renamed, it became “Seditionaries” which sold the same clothes but with more of a music aspect.
Emerged in the Punk Rock scene Westwood created clothes which McLaren conceived, and soon, the Sex Pistols ( formed in 1975 )  began to wear Vivienne’s creations.

Vivienne and McLaren in 2 moments 

Vivienne mixed the garments of the punks, as safety pins, razor blades, chains, spiked collars, bondage gear… with the traditional Scottish design such as the Tartan  and the Kilt to create her own style.

In 1977 she and McLaren would design a phenomenum, the “Destroy” shirts, another punk icon.
The “destroy” was a muslin t-shirt formed from two squares of fabric,evoking a straitjacket and printed with the word ‘destroy’ and a swastika.Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren used highly charged slogans and provocative images in a deliberate attempt to provoke the establishment. The muslins quickly became tattered, only adding to their appeal.

In this decade, Vivienne also produce another famous t-shirt, “God Save the Queen” which would be immortalized by the “Sex Pistols”.
The 80’s came as a turning point to Vivienne.
In 1981 she and McLaren presented their first catwalk collection, “Pirates” ( with the store “Worlds End “). 
McLaren was obsessed with music and Westwood, for the first time, began to see herself as a fashion designer. But she needed new direction: ‘We wanted to get out of that underground tunnel feeling of England, that dark feeling.’ McLaren said, ‘Do something romantic. Look at history.’ That’s why they chose the “Pirates” theme.
Gradually, the couple and their partnership would slip. 

The Period Vivienne lived from 1988 to 1993 she would call “The Pagan Years”
During this period Vivienne’s heros changed from punks and ragamuffins to ‘Tatler’ girls wearing clothes that parodied the upper class.

Finally the 90’s came and made Vivienne a mature woman.
From 1989 to 1991  She appointed Professor of Fashion at Vienna Academy of Applied Arts.

And in 1990 she presented her first complete menswear collection, Cut and Slash (S/S 1991) shown in conjuntion with Pitti Uomo in Florence.  In 1990 and in 1991  Westwood was named the Fashion designer of the year, by the British Fashion Council.

In that decade Vivienne submitted more her collections to old historical influences.
Vivienne began to study more the 18th french art and costume and began to add more influences of the British Royalty on her garments.
The period from 1993 to 1999 she called Anglomania. ( which means an excessive enthusiasm for all English things) 
Later “Anglomania” would turn to a second label.
Her present and last phase is Exploration
When she Began to put historicism to one side, returned to a more asexual cut, exploring the natural dynamic of the fabric by treating it like a living mass.


In 2004 her retrospective opens at the “Victoria & Albert Museum”
Today she has 4 brands: “Red Label” , “Gold Label” ( the principal ), “Anglomania” and “Man”.
“Worlds end” still exists and sells Vivienne creations.
Westwood’s son by McLaren, Joe Corre, is the founder of Agent Provocateur, while her other son, Ben, is an erotic photographer.   
Well, I spent quite a time collecting facts about Vivienne’s life, but it was amazing to know more about this amazing designer.
I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I did!
And don’t forget to vote for the next designer to have his/her biography here at grandma.
The next one will be a Japanese one, but who? Kenzo, Rei Kawakubo, Issey Miyake  or Yohji Yamamoto.
That’s up to you, vote here at the sidebar → 
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