Considered one of the most unconventional outspoken fashion designers of the world rose, Vivienne Westwood rose to fame in the late 1970s when he early designs helped shape the look of the punk rock movement.
Vivienne Westwood was born Vivienne Isabel Swire on April 8, 1941 in Glossop, Derbyshire, England. She came from humble beginnings, her father was a cobbler and her mother worked in a local cotton mill. When she was 17 her family moved to Harrow in the country of Middlesex, where she enrolled in teacher training school.
By the early 1960’s her life seemed pretty set. At 25 she was married to an air steward by the name of Derek Westwood, whom she had her son Ben with, and started work as a teacher in a primary school. Things however didn’t work out with Derek and their marriage was dissolved. This painful event would be the catalyst to the start of her fashion career. She met Melcome Mclaren an art student and future manager of the Sex Pistols and father or her second son Joseph. She began making jewelry on the side and through her new partners was introduced to a new world of creative freedom and the power art had on the political landscape.
Westwood began designing clothes in 1971 which she sold in, Let It Rock, a small boutique on 430 Kings Rd London opened by Melcome. Though constantly being renamed (it was renamed five times!) the boutique became an important fashion center for the punk movement. Five years later when Melcome became manager of the Sex Pistols, it was Vivienne’s designs dressed the band and helped carve out its identity.
As most movements due the punk movement soon faded. Not one to be discouraged Vivienne ventured on and in 1981 she showed her first seminal collection in London entitled Pirates which included frilly shirts and other attire. In 1990 her interest shifted into haute couture and she launched a menswear collection in Florence.
Westwood’s influence on the fashion world is hard to deny. She has been the recipient of numerous awards including:
- British Designer of the Year twice (1990,1991)
- O.B.E, Most Excellent order of the British Empire (1992)
- Queen’s Export Award (1998)
- Outstanding Achievement in Fashion Design at the British Fashion Awards (2007)
Through all her fame and fortune Vivienne has remember her humble beginnings. For the past 30 years she has lived in the same small South London apartment, paying just $400/month and rides her bicycle to her studio. In 1993 ten years after she and Melcome Mclaren split, she was married for the second time to her assistant Andreas Kronthaler, who w as 25 year her junior. Today Kronthaler is her designing partner and the couple resigns in South London.
Happy Birthday Vivienne Westwood! May your year bring you happiness and joy…and bring us more amazing creations!