Vivienne Westwood

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Dame Vivienne Westwood
DBE RDI
Born Vivienne Isabel Swire
(1941-04-08) 8 April 1941 (age 73)
Tintwistle, Derbyshire (then Cheshire), England
Nationality British
Education University of Westminster, Middlesex University
Occupation Fashion designer/Businesswoman
Spouse(s) Sam Westwood (1962–65) (divorced); 1 child
Andreas Kronthaler (since 1992)
Children Ben Westwood (born 1963)
Joseph Corré (born 1967)
Awards British Fashion Designer of the Year (1990, 1991 and 2006)
Labels Vivienne Westwood

Dame Vivienne Westwood, DBE, RDI (born Vivienne Isabel Swire on 8 April 1941) is an English fashion designer and businesswoman, largely responsible for bringing modern punk and new wave fashions into the mainstream.1

Westwood came to public notice when she made clothes for Malcolm McLaren's boutique in the King's Road, which became famous as "SEX". It was their ability to synthesise clothing and music that shaped the 1970s UK punk scene, dominated by McLaren's band, the Sex Pistols. She was deeply inspired by the shock-value of punk - "seeing if one could put a spoke in the system".

Westwood went on to open four shops in London, eventually expanding throughout the United Kingdom and the world, selling an increasingly varied range of merchandise, some of it linked to her many political causes such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, climate change and the civil rights group Liberty. She has been twice married, with two children.

Life and career

Early life

Westwood was born Vivienne Isabel Swire in the village of Tintwistle, DerbyshireN 1 on 8 April 1941,2 the daughter of Gordon Swire and Dora Swire (née Ball), who had married two years previously, two weeks after the outbreak of World War II.3 At the time of Vivienne's birth, her father was employed as a storekeeper in an aircraft factory; he had previously worked as a greengrocer.3 She attended Glossop Grammar School.

Aged 17 in 1958, Vivienne and her family moved to Harrow, London. She studied at the Harrow School of Art, University of Westminster, taking fashion and silversmithing, but she left after one term saying, "I didn't know how a working-class girl like me could possibly make a living in the art world".4 After taking up a job in a factory and studying at a teacher-training college, she became a primary school teacher.2 During this period, she also created her own jewellery, which she would sell at a stall on Portobello Road.2

In 1962, Vivienne Swire met Derek Westwood, a Hoover factory apprentice, in Harrow.5 They married on 21 July 1962 and Vivienne made her own wedding dress for the ceremony.5 In 1963, she gave birth to a son, Benjamin Westwood.5

Malcolm McLaren

When she met Malcolm McLaren, it meant the end of Westwood's marriage to Derek. Westwood and McLaren moved to a council flat in Clapham. Westwood continued to teach until 1971 when Malcolm decided to open a boutique at 430 King's Road called "Let It Rock" (later known variously as "Sex", "Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die", and "Seditionaries") and now Worlds Ends, where Westwood sells her Vivienne Westwood label clothing.

Westwood created clothes which McLaren conceived, drawing inspiration from bikers, fetishists and prostitutes.6 During this period, McLaren became manager of the punk band, the Sex Pistols, and subsequently the two garnered attention as the band wore Westwood's and McLaren's designs. In 1967, while living in Clapham, Westwood and McLaren had a son, Joseph Corré.7

Punk era

Westwood was deeply interested in the punk fashion phenomenon of the 1970s, saying "I was messianic about punk, seeing if one could put a spoke in the system in some way".5 The "punk style" included BDSM fashion, bondage gear, safety pins, razor blades, bicycle or lavatory chains on clothing and spiked dog collars for jewellery, as well as outrageous make-up and hair. Essential design elements include the adoption of traditional elements of Scottish design such as tartan fabric. Among the more unusual elements of her style is the use of historical 17th- and 18th-century cloth-cutting principles, and reinterpreting these in, for instance, radical cutting lines to men's trousers. Use of these traditional elements make the overall effect of her designs more "shocking".She opened the brand after splitting with victoria.

Vivienne Westwood company

Westwood has six exclusively-owned shops: four in London, one in Leeds, and one in Milan. Franchise stores are located in Liverpool, Newcastle, Glasgow, three in Manchester (Spring Gardens in the city centre and two others)citation needed and most recently, in FH Mall, Nottingham (20 March 2008), Blake Street, York (11 September 2008) and Cardiff City Centre (September 2012).8 She also has showrooms in Milan, Paris, Los Angeles and Honolulu.

Artistic collections

The pair of heels designed by Westwood in which Naomi Campbell famously stumbled while modelling at Westwood's fashion show in 19939

Her first catwalk show was presented in 1981, featuring the collaboration of Westwood and McLaren. The theme that year was "Pirates".10 Westwood's subsequent theme titles in the early years included "Savage" (1982), "Buffalo Girls" (Autumn–Winter 1982–83) and "Clint Eastwood" (Autumn–Winter 1984–85) under the Worlds Ends label; she stopped producing the line in 1985 to concentrate on her Vivienne Westwood lines. She says: “Sometimes you need to transport your idea to an empty landscape and then populate it with fantastic looking people.”10

She dubbed the period 1981 to 1985 "New romantice" and 1988–91 as "The Pagan Years" during which "Vivienne’s heroes changed from punks and ragamuffins to ‘Tatler’ girls wearing clothes that parodied the upper class."

Her Autumn/Winter 2005–06 Propaganda Collection drew inspiration from her archive, reinterpreting designs using Wolford's exclusive knitting technology. Westwood has worked in close collaboration with Wolford since 2003.citation needed In 2006, she collaborated with Nine West, whose shoes are not designed directly by Westwood; however, the Nine West brand name shares its label with Westwood. Westwood's Gold Label and MAN hats are created by Prudence Millinery. In 12 November 2004 – 30 January 2005, she was featured in a retrospective show "Vivienne Westwood - 34 years in fashion" at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. The exhibition, created from approximately 145 complete outfits grouped into the themes from the early 1970s to the present day, was drawn from her own personal archive and the V&A's extensive collection. The designs ranged from early punk garments to glamorous "historical" evening gowns.citation needed

In July 2011, Westwood's collections were presented at the catwalk of The Brandery fashion show in Barcelona.11

Notable clients and commissions

Princess Eugenie wore three different Westwood designs for the pre-wedding dinner, the wedding ceremony and the after-wedding party at the 2011 royal wedding.12

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, wore Westwood to Royal Ascot in 2009.13

Gwen Stefani wore a Westwood corset in the No Doubt video for the song "Spiderwebs".

Artistic influence

Westwood has influenced the launch of the careers of other designers into the British fashion industry. She employed the services of Patrick Cox to design shoes for her "Clint Eastwood" collection in 1984. The result was a prototype for nine-inch-heeled shoes like the ones worn by supermodel Naomi Campbell when she fell during a Westwood fashion show in Paris in 1993.citation needed

Sex and the City

Westwood's designs were featured in the 2008 film adaptation of the television series Sex and the City. In the film, Carrie Bradshaw becomes engaged to long-term lover Mr. Big. Being a writer at Vogue, she is invited by her editor to model wedding dresses, including a design made by Westwood. The dress is subsequently sent to Carrie as a gift, with a handwritten note from Westwood herself, and Carrie decides to use the Westwood gown.

However, despite being invited to participate in the making of the movie, Westwood was unimpressed with the costuming by renowned stylist Patricia Field. She walked out of the film's London premiere after 10 minutes, publicly criticising the clothing featured as being frumpy and boring.citation needed The wedding dress has been described as one of the movie's most iconic features, leading Westwood to approach the producers about being involved in making a sequel.14

Political involvement

Westwood is widely known as a political activist.

In April 1989 Westwood appeared on the cover of Tatler dressed as then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The suit that Westwood wore had been ordered for Thatcher but had not yet been delivered.15 Westwood's appearance on Tatler reportedly infuriated Thatcher.15 The cover, which bore the caption "This woman was once a punk", has become memorable cover for the magazine and was included in The Guardian's list of the best ever UK magazine covers.16 Additionally, the cover date, April 1989, on the magazine bears the words "April fool".17

Dame Vivienne stated on television in 2007 that she had transferred her long-standing support for the Labour Party to the Conservative Party, over the issues of civil liberties and human rights.18

On Easter Sunday 2008, she campaigned in person at the biggest Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament demonstration in ten years, at the Atomic Weapons Establishment, Aldermaston, Berkshire.19

In September 2005, Westwood joined forces with the British civil rights group Liberty and launched exclusive limited design T-shirts and babywear bearing the slogan I AM NOT A TERRORIST, please don't arrest me. She 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 civilisation 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.20 The sale of the £50 T-shirts raised funds for the organisation.

Setting her A/W 2011 campaign against the backdrop of a Nairobi slum, Dame Vivienne aimed to draw attention to her partnership with the Ethical Fashion Africa Programme. One journalist referred to the campaign as ‘poverty porn cliché,’ while others admired her attempt to draw attention to ethical abuses in fashion and her motto of ‘This is not Charity, this is work’.

In June 2013, Westwood dedicated one of her collections to Bradley Manning and at her fashion show she and all of her models wore large image badges of Manning with the word "TRUTH" under his picture.21

In 2014, she cut off her hair because, according to her spokesman, "we must all wake up to Climate Change."22 She also appeared in a PETA ad campaign to promote World Water Day, drawing attention to the meat industry's water consumption.23

Active Resistance manifesto

In a 2007 interview she spoke out against what she perceive as the "drug of consumerism",24 and in 2009 she attended the première of The Age of Stupid, a film aimed at motivating the public to act against climate change.25

She later created a manifesto called Active Resistance to Propaganda,26clarification needed which deals with the pursuit of art in relation to the human predicament and climate change.27 In her manifesto, she "penetrates to the root of the human predicament and offers the underlying solution. We have the choice to become more cultivated and therefore more human – or by muddling along as usual we shall remain the destructive and self-destroying animal, the victim of our own cleverness."28

Against the claim that anti-consumerism and fashion contradict each other, she said in 2007: "I don't feel comfortable defending my clothes. But if you've got the money to afford them, then buy something from me. Just don't buy too much."27 Still, she faces criticism, mainly from eco-activists who claim that despite her calls to save the environment, she herself makes no concessions to making her clothing or her business eco-friendly at all.29

Vivienne Westwood's London

In January 2011, Westwood was featured in a Canadian-made television documentary called Vivienne Westwood's London in which she takes the viewer through her favourite parts of London, including the Courtauld Institute of Art, the Wallace Collection, Whitechapel (accompanied by Sarah Stockbridge), Hampton Court, the London Symphony Orchestra, Brixton Market and Electric Avenue, and the National Gallery. Her purpose, she said, was to share her love of high culture and to impress its importance on the current generation: "I love this city and its culture. I want to encourage people to love art and believe that culture can save the world. Culture is about people's outlook on the world and along with art, is the anchor that holds us together as a people and gives life greater meaning."30

Recognition

In 1992, Westwood was awarded an OBE, which she collected from Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.31 At the ceremony, Westwood was knicker-less, which was later captured by a photographer in the courtyard of Buckingham Palace. Westwood later said, "I wished to show off my outfit by twirling the skirt. It did not occur to me that, as the photographers were practically on their knees, the result would be more glamorous than I expected,"32 and added: "I have heard that the picture amused the Queen."32 Westwood advanced from OBE to DBE in the 2006 New Year's Honours List "for services to fashion",31 and has twice earned the award for British Designer of the Year.

Personal life

Westwood is currently married to her former fashion student, Austrian Andreas Kronthaler. For 30 years she lived in the council flat in Clapham until, in 2000, Kronthaler convinced her to move into a Queen Anne style house built in 1703, which once belonged to the mother of Captain Cook.33 Westwood does not watch television or read newspapers or magazines, however she is a keen gardener.34

Children

Notes

  1. ^ Westwood was born in Tintwistle, but at the time of her birth in 1941 Tintwistle was within of the county of Cheshire. Since 1974, Tintwistle has fallen under the boundaries of the county of Derbyshire.

References

  1. ^ Bell-Price, Shannon (October 2004). "Vivienne Westwood (born 1941) and the Postmodern Legacy of Punk Style Source: Vivienne Westwood (born 1941) and the Postmodern Legacy of Punk Style". Metmuseum.org. Retrieved 30 October 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c Susannah Frankel (20 October 1999). "Meet the grande dame of Glossop". The Independent (London). Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Nick Barratt (24 February 2007). "Family detective". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  4. ^ "Vivienne Westwood – The Early Years". Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Vivienne Westwood: Disgracefully yours, the Queen Mother of Fashion". The Independent (London). 2 June 2002. Retrieved 31 March 2010. 
  6. ^ Cathy Horyn (14 February 1999). "The Queen of Extreme (page 3)". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 March 2010. 
  7. ^ "Joe Corré and Serena Rees: Sex and the City". The Independent. 29 July 2002. Archived from the original on 12 April 2010. 
  8. ^ "United Kingdom – Vivienne Westwood". Viviennewestwood.co.uk. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  9. ^ "Red-faced Agyness Deyn does a Naomi Campbell whilst on the catwalk as the stars turn out for Haiti fundraiser". Daily Mail (UK). 13 February 2010. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  10. ^ a b The Early Years Vivienne Westwood web site
  11. ^ The Brandery, Catwalk, TV Fashion Runway Show
  12. ^ "Week in Review: Princess Eugenie, 24-30 April". The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor. 5 May 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2012. 
  13. ^ English, Rebecca (17 June 2009). "Recession hits Royal Ascot as Princess Beatrice wears a Topshop jacket to join the royals at the races". Daily Mail (London). 
  14. ^ Barnett, Leisa (7 January 2009). "Sex And The Dame)". Vogue.co.uk. Retrieved 30 October 2010. 
  15. ^ a b "Biography: Dame Vivienne Westwood". BBC. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  16. ^ "Are these the best ever UK magazine covers?". The Guardian (London). 8 August 2008. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  17. ^ "Tatler, April 1989". Magazine Week. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  18. ^ "New Conservative Vivienne Westwood has something to get off her chest". Vogue.co.uk. 29 November 2007. Retrieved 30 October 2010. 
  19. ^ "Vivienne Westwood rallies at CND's Easter Monday demonstration in Berkshire". Vogue.co.uk. 25 March 2008. Retrieved 30 October 2010. 
  20. ^ Browning, Anna (28 September 2005). "The power of T-shirt slogans". BBC News. Retrieved 30 October 2010. 
  21. ^ [1]dead link
  22. ^ Olivia Bergin, "Vivienne Westwood Cut Off Her Hair To Promote Climate Change," Telgraph.co.uk, 6 March, 2014.
  23. ^ Bibi Sowray, "Vivienne Westwood Takes a Shower To Promote World Water Day," Telegraph.co.uk, 18 March 2014.
  24. ^ Brockes, Emma (11 May 2007). "All hail the Queen". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 9 April 2010. 
  25. ^ "Age of Stupid premiere: the green carpet treatment". The Guardian (London). 2009-03-16. Retrieved 9 April 2010. 
  26. ^ Accessible at http://activeresistance.co.uk
  27. ^ a b Cadwalladr, Carole (2 December 2007). "I don't feel comfortable defending my clothes. But if you've got the money to afford them, then buy something from me. Just don't buy too much". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 9 April 2010. 
  28. ^ Vivienne Westwood, Active Resistance Manifesto
  29. ^ 28 March 2013 (28 March 2013). "Vivienne Westwood's Climate Revolution Charter: A Critique". Eluxe Magazine. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  30. ^ Heather Toskan, QMI Agency, Vivienne Westwood's London, 22 January 2010.
  31. ^ a b "Vivienne Westwood collects royal honour wearing no knickers – again". Daily Mail (UK). 9 June 2006. Retrieved 31 March 2010. 
  32. ^ a b "Vivienne Westwood: You ask the questions". The Independent (London). 21 February 2001. Retrieved 31 March 2010. 
  33. ^ Cathy Horyn (31 December 2009). "The Queen V". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  34. ^ Piers Beeching (2009-08-06). "Me & my garden: Vivienne Westwood". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  35. ^ sheiglagh. "Vivienne Westwood’s son Ben Breaks into Men’s Fashion". zimbio.com. Retrieved 26 July 2009. 

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