The Career of Vivienne Westwood


Natalie Padro, Staff Writer

Born in Tintwistle, United Kingdom on April 8, 1941 Vivienne Westwood was one of the most notable designers in fashion industry. Even from a young age of 30 she was able to leave on long lasting impact with her “punk” style, along with incorporating anti-establishment messages and challenging traditional clothing norms. This what made her so notable throughout her 60 decade career.

After divorcing her first husband, Derek Westwood, in 1965 she met future Sex pistols manager Malcolm McLaren. They both had a love for fashion which later led them to open their own store “Let It Rock” where they sold secondhand 50’s clothing, but McLaren wanted to put a spin on 50’s clothing. Since Westwood was familiar with designing and sewing clothes, this began her fashion journey. In there later renamed store “SEX” they would sell F-worded biker jackets and “God Save the Queen” T-shirts, zips, chains and safety pins.

Vivienne not only wanted to inspire change with her clothing; she wanted to destroy conformity. “The only reason I’m in fashion is to destroy the word conformity.”

In the spring of 1981 Westwood and McLaren presented their first collection entitled “Pirates”. The collection showcased ruffled shirts, chisel-toe pirate boots, felt admiral hats, fall-down stockings, and long baggy, buttoned coats all along the catwalk.

After the couple later spilt in 1983, Westwood would launch her first solo collection entitled “Clint Eastwood”. The collection was full of fluorescent and logoed styles inspired by neon lights of Tokyo. This caused her immediate success. She would later drop some of her iconic collections like her 1994-95 – “On Liberty” show, “Erotic Zones” spring/summer 1995 show, and “Harris Tweed” AW87-88 show.

Even though an England based brand, Westwood gained a lot of traction in the US to, just from her couture designs.

Later on in 2006 Vivienne earned the title of Dame Commander of the British Empire, an upgrade from her 1992 Order of the British Empire medal from Queen Elizabeth II.

Throughout her fashion career she wasn’t just known for her punk designs, she was also known for showing her activism in her designs. Specifically from her AW14 menswear show, she slicked back the models’ hair by adding feathers with oil to resemble an oil-stained duck to bring awareness to fracking.

Sadly Vivienne Westwood died on December 29 of 2022. Throughout her career she inspired change– pushing traditional gender norms, activism, and inspiration which she continually does so even through death. Fashion designer, Matty Bovan stated “She rewrote the whole book of what modern fashion is, from everything to the cutting, to the use of sportswear, to all the historical references, to all the English textiles and craft… Without her the world of modern fashion would look entirely different.”