• Solange McKenzie

Vivienne Westwood: Bringing Punk to Fashion

Vivienne Westwood

Happy New Year Indigo Blue Stylers! Today we'll be talking about the iconic British designer, Vivienne Westwood and how she brought Punk to Fashion. First, let's get some background on what Punk is. The overall concept of punk is going against ideals that are considered mainstream, challenging them and expressing yourself freely. This sub-culture became big around the 1970's in the United States and United Kingdom. Make sure to learn more about the Punk subculture by reading here.

Vivienne Westwood, Fall 2016, Ready to Wear

While Westwood didn't release her first collection until the early 1980's, she is actually one of the trailblazers of the 1970's Punk Revolution. At the time she co-owned a store with her partner, Malcom McLaren, which was instrumental in influencing the fashion changes which brought Punk to the fashion scene. These changes defied the fashion trends of the time. She and her husband's goal was to "shock, irritate and provoke a reaction but also to inspire change." as stated by Viv Albertine, a punk musician inspired by Westwood's style, in her memoir. These ideals run throughout her brand and designs which includes the use of zippers, studs and spikes, safety pins, leather and her iconic use of tartan (which is still incorporated into collections today. Westwood has definitely shocked the masses. In 1977 she designed her "DESTROY" shirt which depicted a bright red swastika beneath the word "Destroy" along with some lyrics by The Sex Pistols, a band in which she often styled. This shirt caused controversy due to the imagery. Since the controversy, Westwood has maintained the view that this shirt is about taking a stand against dictators, challenging the prior generations and the use of these symbols was an effort to remove their power.

Vivienne Westwood, Fall 2020, Ready to Wear

While Westwood has made a name for herself in mainstream culture, you cannot forget where she started and the fact that this revolution also fostered a relationship between fashion, music and cultures that run opposite to mainstream society. Since releasing her first collection in the 80's, Westwood’s designs have been featured in films such as Sex and the City. Some of her notable clients include Pharrell Williams, Marion Cotillard, and Princess Eugenie. Additionally, Westwood has been very active in United Kingdom politics, has co-authored the book Fashion in art: The Second Empire and Impressionism, and much more.

Vivienne Westwood Wedding gown featured in Sex and the City

Fun fact: Westwood's youngest son, Joseph Corré, is the founder of luxury lingerie brand, Agent Provocateur.

Vivienne Westwood with son, Joseph Corrè

What are your thoughts about Westwood's history? Let us know in the comments!

-Solange McKenzie

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