She’s one of the biggest names in the bizz, with a career spanning over 4 decades. Ms Westwood was carving the way for British fashion back before I was a glimmer in my Mother’s eye, and continues to this day. Her brand is known globally, she’s recognised as one of the most outrageous designers but she herself is as important as her clothes. One thing most people can agree on, is that she’s pretty odd. Not that odd is a bad thing! In the fashion industry it’s pretty normal to be weird, just like it’s expected for to the kids to be brainy at Mensa. All part of the package.
When you see the founder and front woman behind a fashion brand driving a tank up to David Cameron’s country abode, you realise there’s far more to her than clothes and accessories. A very progressive lady with a strong moral compass and a dedication to her beliefs. Some of her main aims are: to stop fracking, end gender discrimination, save the rainforests, start a climate change revolution, promote vegetarianism, educate on ethical fashion, protest against terrorism and push for Scottish independence. Basically, Dame Vivienne Westwood wants to save the world. And why the hell not?! What better way to use your status than to educate and promote. She’s one busy lady and still going strong at 74!
Obviously over time you can expect to upset a few people. I doubt that Mr Cameron was overly impressed to wake up to a tank, I personally would have welcomed the break to my mundane morning routine. In the 70’s there were a few things that were a wee bit too provocative for the British public and so prosecution was necessary under obscenity laws – naughty naughty. There was also the April fools joke of 89′ that spread like wildfire through fashion week and ended in the dismissal of a Tatler editor. Note to self: never impersonate Maggie Thatcher on the cover of a national magazine.
Her influences were strange and unfamiliar to the fashion world, but it was originality at it’s best. It’s what made Dame Vivienne Westwood a national icon and worldwide phenomenon. She and her (now ex) husband, Malcolm McLaren kicked it all off by opening their first store on Kings Road called ‘Let it Rock’. It was the beginning of the 70s, people were still reeling in the 60s flower power and free love but they were more interested in the rebellion of the 1950s, where the world’s first youth culture was born. Bored of Teddy Boys and their dandy style, it was the biker look with their leather and zips that took her fancy next. And along with it came a name change for the shop ‘Too fast to live, too young to die’. In the space of ten years the shop changed it’s name 4 times, each marking a moment in history and a source of rebellion for the designer. I’ve got to say ‘Sex – Rubberwear for the office’ is probably my favourite. After the Sex Pistols’ demise, the 80s hit and ‘Sex’ became ‘Worlds End’, the name it still holds today.
Vivienne Westwood the fashion brand is much more than shirts and jackets. It truly is a part of British history. The collections still reflect the iconic eras of the brand’s past with punk and pirate vibes still running through the Anglomania collection – this season even features a t-shirt emblazoned with one of the store’s previous names. After the punks came the posh Totty, where the collections were influenced by clothes that epitomised the upper classes. We can still see that in the tweed overcoats and argyle jumpers on offer today. This is a brand with a true signature look.
In conclusion, the weird and wonderful world of Westwood is an enjoyable place, full of creativity and originality but also full of substance and intrigue. Dame Vivienne Westwood is a fascinating character with a long and colourful career, and one which doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. She’s the symbol of individuality for all the outcasts and rebels who don’t want to conform to the H&M’s and Topman’s of the world – that’s not to say that to wear Vivienne Westwood you need to embody her typical style, because most of the time it’s pretty nuts. Westwood is someone who has consistently produced outstanding collections, built and expanded on her brand, as well as developing a platform for her beliefs and becoming influential beyond the clothing industry. These are all reason enough to continue following her journey, and her fashion. She’s a legend.
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