Vivienne Westwood – Iconic British Fashion Designer

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Vivienne Westwood Fashion Labels – Modern Punk for the cool

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Vivienne Westwood Fashion

Vivienne Westwood Designer Women's Fashion

Purveyor of Punk: The Vivienne Westwood Brand

Vivienne Westwood is the British designer largely responsible for bringing modern punk and new wave fashions into the mainstream. In 1970, her career in fashion began, joining forces with partner and Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren to craft the signature look of London’s emerging punk movement through various incarnations of their shop at 430 King’s Road, London. Her business and personal relationship with McLaren ended in 1984, but her fashion evolution continued, incorporating safety pins and Union Jacks with her own tartan pieces, pinstriped tailoring, corsets, and Watteau (gathered and pleated) gowns. Her contribution to fashion has been commemorated with several retrospective showings of her work. Vivienne Westwood has also been made a Dame in the New Year Honours list of 2006.

Vivienne Westwood has never been far from controversy. She wore a a sheer gown without underwear when receiving her OBE from the Queen in 1992. She has also had various forays into political activism. Westwood’s flirting with controversy may be one attribute that has made her namesake brand a fashion empire for the cool. Vivienne Westwood has four clothing lines Gold Label, Red Label, Anglomania, and Man; as well as a full range of Westwood accessories (from jewellery to bags) and fragrances that are sold at stores worldwide. Vivienne Westwood has flagship boutiques worldwide including fashion capitals Japan, Paris, Hong Kong, Moscow, Seoul, London, New York and Los Angeles.

History of the Vivienne Westwood Brand

  • 1971: Vivienne Westwood starts designing and opens her first shop, ‘Let it Rock’ with husband and business partner Malcolm McLaren in Kings Road, London. The shop underwent many style and name changes, including ‘Too Fast To Live, Too Young To Die’, ‘Sex’,  ‘Seditionaries’ before settling on the name ‘World’s End’ in 1979, which it still remains today.
  • 1981: Westwood shows her first collection catwalk presentation at Olympia in London.
  • 1982: Vivienne Westwood begins to show her collections in Paris, the first British designer to do so since Mary Quant. With McLaren, she opens a second shop, ‘Nostalgia of Mud’ in London.
  • 1984: Vivienne Westood shows her new collection in Tokyo with Hanae Mori, Calvin Klein, Claude Montana, and Gianfranco Ferre at “the best of five”. Unfortunately this year ‘Nostalgia of Mud’ closes coinciding with the end of her collaboration and relationship McLaren.
  • 1986: Carlo D’Amario is appointed as Managing Director of Vivienne Westwood.
  • 1989: Vivienne Westwood is named one of the six most influential designers in editor of the fashion bible, Women’s Wear Daily – John Fairchild’s book ‘Chic Savages’.
  • 1990: Vivienne Westwood shows her first complete menswear collection in conjunction with Pitti Uomo in Florence. A new store opens in London’s Mayfair, which sells the Gold Collection. Additionally, Westwood receives the Designer of the Year Award at The British Fashion Council Awards.
  • 1991: Vivienne Westwood is once again chosen to show in Tokyo, this time alongside Christian Lacroix, Isaac Mizrahi, and Francesco Moschino at the Fashion Summit.
  • 1992: Vivienne Westwood receives the Designer of the Year Award for second time at The British fashion Council Awards. Following a listing in the Birthday Honours issued by Buckingham Palace, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, presents Vivienne Westwood with an O.B.E. in December. Also this year, collaboration with watch makers Swatch sees the creation of a watch design called ‘Putti’. Westwood also expands her Spring/Summer collection to include wedding gowns.
  • 1993: The womenswear brand is divided into two different lines: Gold Label, selling couture, and Red Label the pret-â-porter line. Westwood creates her own tartan for the Anglomania line of Autumn/Winter 1993/94 and invents her own clan ‘MacAndreas’, which is officially recognized by Lochcarron of Scotland. Additionally, Westwood designs her second watch for Swatch, named ‘Orb’.
  • 1996: The independent menswear line ‘Man’ is launched in Milan.
  • 1998: Vivienne Westwood Ltd is awarded the Queen’s Award for Export in recognition of the company’s growing export market. Vivienne Westwood launches her debut fragrance, ‘Boudoir’, developed in conjunction with world-famous perfumer, Martin Gras of Dragoco.
  • 1999: The Vivienne Westwood Red Label is launched in New York to coincide with the opening of the first US store on Greene Street, New York. Accessories lines are introduced including the eyewear collection and the body and bath line.
  • 2001: The second fragrance from Vivienne Westwood, ‘Libertine’, is launched globally, following a release in Europe the previous year. A new Vivienne Westwood flagship store opens in Moscow. Additionally the official Vivienne Westwood website is launched.
  • 2002: The Hong Kong flagship store opens as do two boutiques in Korea.
  • 2003: The brand collaborates with Wedgwood to develop a Vivienne Westwood home collection. Brand expansion continues with store openings in Milan and Liverpool.
  • 2004: Vivienne Westwood is awarded the Lifetime Achievement award at the Elle style awards the Women’s World Fashion Award by Former President Gorbachev in Hamburg. Also this year the third Vivienne Westwood fragrance ‘Anglomania’ is launched.
  • 2006: Vivienne Westwood is made a Dame in the New Years Honours List for services to fashion.
  • 2007: The brand launches two new fragrances, ‘Boudoir Sin Garden’ and ‘Let it rock’. Also this year the ‘Anglomania’ collection is shown at the Mercedes Benz Fashion week in Berlin and Vivienne Westwood receives the Outstanding Achievement in Fashion at the British Fashion Awards in London.
  • 2010: Vivienne Westwood teams up with denim brand, Lee Jeans, for a capsule collection featuring five styles for women and four for men. The Vivienne Westwood Anglomania and Lee Jeans collection takes inspiration from Westwood’s punk and pirate collections of the 1970s and 1980s. Additionally, Vivienne Westwood is named as the Coolest Fashion Brand in a survey administered by The Centre for Brand Analysis.
  • 2011: The new Palladium jewellery collection is launched to coincide with the opening of the Los Angeles flagship store.

Famous Faces of Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood has been worn by many a famous face. At the 2011 Oscars, Dame Helen Mirren and co-host Anne Hathaway both walked the red carpet in Vivienne Westwood. Other fans include Zoe Salanda, Heidi Klum, Anna Kendrick, Kerry Washington, Gwen Steffani, Dita von Teese and Eva Mendes.

The Vivienne Westwood brand has also used high profile celebrities in advertising campaigns. Pamela Anderson starred in advertising campaigns and walked the catwalk for the Spring/Summer 2009 collection.

Pamela Anderson for Vivienne Westwood

Pamela Anderson for Vivienne Westwood

Pamela and Vivienne have remained friends since the start of their working relationship, and for Westwood’s 70th birthday Anderson joined forces with British charity Cool Earth to gift Vivienne with a 70-acre rainforest plot to put back in the hands of indigenous communities, saving it from deforestation.

Christina Hendricks best known for her role on smash hit US drama, Mad Men was announced in 2011, to be the face of Vivienne Westwood’s new ‘Get a Life’ Palladium jewellery collection. With her infamous curves, shock of flaming red hair and an already existing love for the fashions of Vivienne Westwood, she was the perfect choice to front the collection. The new collection comprises both couture and commercial pieces crafted from palladium, a naturally white metal belonging to the platinum family. The collection is said to be inspired by nature and from the symbols of paganism – including the acorn, the oak tree and the heart.  These are said to represent strength, power and hope for change to make the environment better for the future – a cause Vivienne Westwood is particularly passionate about.

The line was released in March of 2011 to coincide with the opening of the Los Angeles flagship store as well as being sold in the London-based Vivienne Westwood boutiques.

Vivienne Westwood has also featured on the big screen; a wedding dress design featured in the 2008 film adaptation of the award winning television series Sex and the City. In the film adaptation, Carrie Bradshaw (fashion icon Sarah Jessica Parker), becomes engaged to long term lover Mr. Big. Carrie models a series of wedding dresses for an upcoming article in Vogue, called “The Last Single Girl”. One of the dresses featured in the photo shoot is a design made by Westwood and it is subsequently sent to Carrie as a gift, with a handwritten note from Westwood herself. Westwood was less impressed by the other fashion contributions to the movie – she walked out of the film’s London premiere after 10 minutes, publicly criticising the clothing featured as being frumpy and boring.

Vivienne Westwood Wedding Dress - Sex in the City

Wedding dress in Sex in the City

Gwen Stefani and Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood with superstar Gwen Stefani

Politics of Vivienne Westwood

In 2011, Vivienne Westwood made some controversial comments to a Fox News Reporter at the opening of her new LA store. She was claimed to have said that within one generation, Los Angeles will be uninhabitable if people don’t do something about it. This statement created a backlash of comments from climate experts completely refuting her claims. However, this isn’t the first time that Vivienne Westwood has caused controversy in the world of political activism.

In 1989, Westwood appeared on the cover of Tatler magazine dressed as then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The suit which Westwood wore had been ordered for Thatcher but had not yet been delivered. The cover image, which bore the title “this woman was once a punk”, infuriated Thatcher yet became one of the most memorable covers for the magazine. It was even included in The Guardian’s list of the best ever UK magazine covers.

In 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 human rights; a topic she had been interested in since school. The sale of the T-shirts raised funds for the organisation.

Westwood’s Green Heart

Conserving the environment is a cause close to the heart of Vivienne Westwood. In a 2007 interview, she spoke out against consumerism, and attended the première of The Age of Stupid, a film aimed to motivate the public to act against climate change. Influenced by the film, she created the manifesto Active Resistance to Propaganda, which deals with the pursuit of art in relation to the human predicament and climate change. Refuting the claim that anti-consumerism and fashion contradict each other, she said in 2007 that “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.”

To take a full look at the recent collections of Vivienne Westwood, visit the official Vivienne Westwood website.

Vivienne Westwood Designer Men's Fashion

Vivienne Westwood Designer Women's Fashion

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