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Dame Vivienne Westwood, DBE, RDI (born 8 April 1941) is a British fashion designer largely responsible for bringing modern punk and new wave fashions into the mainstream.

Early life

Westwood was born as Vivienne Isabel Swire in the village of Tintwistlemarker, Derbyshiremarker on 8 April 1941. She studied at the Harrow School of Art, later to attend the University of Westminstermarker, for one term. Vivienne went on to attend Middlesex University's Trent Park College and later taught at a primary school in North Londonmarker.

Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne's first husband was Derek Westwood. Their three-year marriage produced two children; a daughter named Rose and a son named Ben. Westwood then met Malcolm McLaren, who became the manager of the punk band The Sex Pistols. Westwood and McLaren lived in a council flat in Claphammarker and had a son they named Joseph. Westwood continued to teach until 1971, when Malcolm decided to open a shop at 430 King's Road - Let It Rock (also known as Sex, Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die, Seditionaries). Westwood began to sell her outrageous designs in the shop. During this period, Westwood, McLaren, and artist Jamie Reid were influenced by the Situationists. Westwood still owns this shop, which is now known as World's End, from which she sells her Anglomania label. Dame Vivienne Westwood is currently (as of 2009) married to her former fashion student, Austrianmarker-born Andreas Kronthaler.

Punk

The English Punk style began to gain attention 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 for jewelry, as well as outrageous make-up and hair. Essential design elements include the adoption of traditional elements of Scottish design such as tartan fabric. Amongst 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 mens trousers. Use of these traditional elements make the overall effect of her designs more shocking. Other influences in Westwood's work have included Perumarker, the feminine figure, velvet and knitwear.

Westwood and McLaren worked together to revolutionize fashion and their impact is still strongly felt today. Westwood has five exclusively-owned shops; three in London, one in Leeds, and one in Milan. Franchise stores are located in Liverpool, Newcastle, Glasgow, three in Manchester and most recently, in FH Mall, Nottingham (20 March 2008), and in Blake Street, York (11 September 2008). Westwood's themes have included Savage (1981), Hobo and Buffalo (1982), and Pirate. Her latest collection was themed "Gold and Treasure, Adventure and Exploration".

Artistic collections

The first major retrospective of her work was shown in 2004–5 at the Victoria and Albert Museummarker, London, and the National Gallery of Australia. 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. They range from early punk garments to glamorous "historical" evening gowns.

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. 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 December 2003, she and the Wedgwood pottery company launched a series of tea sets featuring her designs.

Artistic influence

Westwood has been influential in launching 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 1994.

Swallows Wood

In May 2006, Westwood wrote a poem and provided personal photos eulogising Swallows Wood, a Nature Reserve near Tintwistlemarker where she was born and grew up. The Reserve has been threatened with destruction by the construction of the Longdendale Bypass.

Sex and the City

Demonstrating the impact of her long career, Westwood's designs were featured in the 2008 film adaptation of the award winning television series Sex and the City. In the film version of the television series, Carrie Bradshaw becomes engaged to long term lover Mr. Big. Being a writer at Vogue, her editor invites her to model wedding dresses for an upcoming article 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. Although she has already picked an outfit for the wedding, Carrie immediately decides to wear the Westwood gown instead. 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. The wedding dress has subsequently become widely recognised as one of the movie's most iconic features and has led Westwood to approach the producers about being involved in making a sequel.

Political involvement

Westwood is also widely known as a political activist. On Easter Sunday 2008, she campaigned in person at the biggest Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament demonstration in ten years, at the Atomic Weapons Establishmentmarker, Aldermastonmarker, Berkshire.

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 organisation. Dame Vivienne has recently stated on television that she has transferred her long standing support for the Labour Party to the Conservative Party, over the issues of civil liberties and human rights.

Recognition

In 2007 Glossopdale Community Collegemarker named one of its newly created houses, Westwood after the designer.

Honours

Westwood was advanced from OBE to DBE in the 2006 New Year's Honours List for services to fashion, and has thrice earned the award for British Designer of the Year. Westwood is the godmother of highfashion model and socialite lady Elissa Spencer-Wilhelmsen Ainsworth, and was the one who discovered designer Rosamund Lodge-Ainsworth who happens to be Lady Elissa's sister-in-law, after marrying lord Philip Spencer-Wilhelmsen Ainsworth. Westwood and the bride designed the wedding dress and she attended the wedding with her sons.

Children

  • Ben Westwood, son of Vivienne and Derek Westwood, is a photographer of erotica.
  • Rose Westwood, daughter of Vivienne and Derek Westwood.
  • Joseph Corré, son of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, is the founder of lingerie brand Agent Provocateur.


Controversy

Notorious for going knicker-less, she caused a stir in 1992 when she came to collect the OBE, reportedly revealing all. After being made a Dame in 2006 by the Prince of Wales she disclosed that she was knicker-less again.

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