Guest Post: Profile Piece on Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood: Profile

Punk royalty Vivienne Westwood has been designing clothes for  decades and is now  considered to be one of the most outspoken and iconic fashion designers in the world. However despite her success as a designer her career in the fashion world is a million miles away from her humble beginnings. She was born Vivienne Isabel Swire on 8th April 1941 in the village of Tintwistle in Derbyshire. She was the only child of Gordon and Dora Swire, a cobbler and cotton weaver.  When she was a teenager the family moved from Derbyshire to Harrow in North West London where her parents took over the running of a post office. Westwood decided to study jewellery making at Harrow Art College before going on to train as a teacher. In 1962 she met and married Derek Westwood and thus gained her iconic name as well as a son called Benjamin.

However by 1965 her marriage had collapsed and after leaving Derek she met Malcolm McLaren an art student and the future manager of the Sex Pistols. Westwood has admitted her relationship with McLaren helped to open doors for her and put her on the path to becoming the successful designer she is today. It was during her relationship with McLaren that she began designing and selling her own jewelry in Portobello market.  The couple went on to have a son together, Joseph Corre in 1967.

In 1971 she and McLaren opened a boutique shop at 430 King’s Road London called Let It Rock before undergoing many name changes before being renamed Sex in 1974. Stocked with Westwood’s designs the shop became a key part of the punk movement. When McLaren started managing the Sex Pistols it was Westwood‘s designs which helped the band to find an identify on stage and put them on the punk map.

Eventually the punk movement faded away and Sex became World’s End, the name by which the shop is still known today. But Westwood didn’t let the death of punk stop her as she embarked upon her first collection, called Pirates which had its debut at London Fashion Week. The style was adopted by musicians and kick-started the new romantics era of music. She has since gone on to win British Fashion Designer of the Year an award she has won three times now. She has also been named one of the top five designers of the last century putting her alongside such fashion icons as Yves Saint Laurent and Coco Chanel. As fellow designer Jasper Conran once said “Vivienne does, and others follow.” In 1989 Westwood appeared on the cover of Tatler dressed as the then Prime Minister Margret Thatcher in a suit the PM  had ordered but hadn’t collected. It was reported the cover infuriated Thatcher and it has since gone on be included in the Guardian’s list of the best ever magazine covers.

In 1992 Westwood married for the second time, this time to one of her design students Andreas Kronthaler. The couple currently reside in South London. In 2006 she was made a dame for her serves to fashion.

Westwood is outspoken in her political views campaigning for CND, climate change and civil rights. In 2005 she teamed up with the civil rights group Liberty to design a T-Shirt promoting the groups campaign to defend habeas corpus, which is the right for anyone Manning the US army soldier arrested on suspicion of passing classified documents to the website Wikileaks.

Today Vivienne Westwood’s empire comprises of the semi couture line Gold Label, the ready to wear line Red label, Vivienne Westwood Man and the diffusion line Anglomania. As well as a range of perfumes including Boudoir and Naughty Alice and an accessories range.

Recently she dedicated one of her collections to Bradley.

By Stephanie from the Watch Hut

images (7) stella-vivienne-1_2385656a lfw wallace arrivals 3 180211 vivienne-westwood-london-fashion-week-spring-summer-2013-01

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