Vivienne Westwood is a legend in her own lifetime, a designer who inspires many other designers and who makes clothes that delight her loyal customers. Born in Derbyshire in 1941, she first became a household name when, in partnership with Malcolm McLaren, she invented the punk uniform. Let It Rock, SEX, Seditionaries, Pirates, and Buffalo Girls were all early collections they created together at their shop in World’s End, Chelsea. All became classics and served to challenge common preconceptions of what fashion could be.
Since severing business ties with McLaren, Westwood has gone on to become one of the industry’s most revered figures. She has achieved all this without any formal training. In the ’80s she was hailed by Women’s Wear Daily as one of the six most influential designers of all time, and in 2004 the Victoria & Albert Museum launched a travelling retrospective exhibition defining her iconic status – the tour will last 7 years and visit Australia, China and the USA.
There is an intellectual method to the madness of her creative energy. Historical references, techniques and fabrics are intrinsic to her approach to design. The results are unconventional and alluring. Her subversive shapes and constructions have consistently proved to be ahead of their time. Awarded an OBE 15 years after being arrested on the night of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, she has now become a part of the establishment she continues to oppose. Myriad awards have been conferred on her, including British Designer of the Year, twice.
Today she shows her ready-to-wear women’s collection in Paris and a menswear collection, MAN, in Milan. While the interest in vintage Westwood has never been more intense, her diffusion line Anglomania regularly references pieces from her earlier collections. Westwood also has three best-selling perfumes – Libertine, Boudoir and Anglomania – and has shops in countries all over the world, including Hong Kong, Japan and Italy.