Dame Vivienne WestwoodDBE (b. April 8, 1941) was christened Vivienne Isabel Swire in Tintwhistle, Cheshire, is an English fashion designer largely responsible for modern punk and new wave fashions. She is linked with the Sex Pistols via Malcolm McLaren and their 'SEX/Seditionaries' boutique on King's Road, in London during the 1970s.
When she was seventeen, her parents bought a post office and moved to the south of England, down to Harrow, Middlesex. There, Vivienne went to a teacher training college and then taught at a primary school in North London.
Vivienne's first husband was Derek Westwood with whom she had a child named Ben. Their marriage lasted three years before she met Malcolm McLaren, later known for being the manager for punk band The Sex Pistols. The two had a son named Joseph, and Westwood continued to teach until 1971, when Malcolm decided to open a shop, Sex, and this is where Vivienne began to sell her outrageous designs. During this period, Westwood, McLaren, and artist Jamie Reid were influenced by the Situationists.
The punk style began to gain notoriety when the Sex Pistols wore clothes from Westwood and McLaren's shop at their first gig. The 'punk style' included BDSM fashion, bondage gear, safety pins, razor blades, bicycle or lavatory chains on clothing and spiked dog collars that were used as
jewelry as well as the outrageous make-up and hair. The inclusion of more traditional elements of British design, such as tartan fabric, amongst the more uncommon elements of her style only served to make the overall effect her designs more shocking.
Together, Westwood and McLaren revolutionized fashion, and the impact is still felt today.
Westwood's first runway show was the Pirate collection in London, in March 1981. Her design style had evolved so that her main interests included not only the youth and street culture but also tradition and technique.
Westwood worked historical factors into her collection by using historical 17th-18th century original cutting principles and modernising them. This collection was all about 'gold and treasure, adventure and exploration'. Other influences in Westwood's work have included ethnic Peruvian influence, feminine figure, and velvet and knitwear. The historical influence also, was always shown in her work.
In December 2003, she and the Wedgwood pottery company launched a series of tea sets featuring her designs.
Her first major retrospective of her work was shown in 2004-2005 at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the National Gallery of Australia. The exhibition is made up of around 145 complete outfits, grouped into the themes which have dominated her work from the early 1970s to the present day and were drawn from her own personal archive and the V&A's extensive collection. They range from early Punk garments to glamorous 'historical' evening gowns. The retrospective is still currently touring the world and is set to continue until 2008.
In September 2005, Westwood joined forces with the British civil rights group Liberty and launched exclusive limited design T-shirts and baby wear bearing the slogan I AM NOT A TERRORIST, please don't arrest me.
Westwood said she was supporting the campaign and defending habeas corpus. "When I was a schoolgirl my history teacher, Mr. Scott, began to take classes in civic affairs. The first thing he explained to us was the fundamental rule of law embodied in habeas corpus. He spoke with pride of
civilization and democracy. The hatred of arbitrary arrest by the lettres de cachet of the French monarchy caused the storming of the Bastille. We can only take democracy for granted if we insist on our liberty", she said. The sale of the 50 T-shirts raised funds for the
Her Autumn/Winter 2005/06 collection draws inspiration from her archive, reinterpreting designs using Wolford's exclusive knitting technology, who she has worked in close collaboration with since 2003.
Westwood accepted a DBE in the 2006 New Year's Honours List "for services to fashion", and has twice earned the award for British Designer of the Year.