Published: 2022-12-12 ǀ Updated: 2023-05-31
Vivienne Westwood Biography
Vivienne Isabel Westwood (* April 8, 1941, as Vivienne Isabel Swire in Tintwistle, Derbyshire; † December 29, 2022, in London) is considered not only an unconventional designer in the mid-seventies, but also the inventor of punk fashion. Forty years later, Westwood's fashion is characterized by eccentric combinations of colorful patterns, rare fabrics and borrowings from historical clothing. With the much quoted statement "Buy less, choose well, make it last," the politically active British woman also emphatically promotes more sustainability in the fashion world.
After attending Harrow Art School, Westwood trained as a teacher and taught at an elementary school in north London.
After a failed marriage with toolmaker Derek Westwood (1962-1965), Westwood met Malcolm Edwards (Malcolm McLaren), with whom she had her second son. As a mother, she devotes more time to sewing her own clothes.
Together with Malcolm, she founded her first boutique "Let it rock" at 430 Kings Road in London.
A new product range brings a new name for the store: "Too Fast To Live, Too Young To Die".
The store has been operating under the name "Sex", and the product range has changed to erotic lingerie and SM articles. During this time, the first touchpoints with Sid Vicious and the later Sex Pistols can be identified, for whose outfits Westwood is largely responsible.
After another renaming ("Seditionaries — Clothes for Heroes"), Westwood's boutique receives its name "World's End", which still holds true today.
Westwood presents her first own fashion collection "Pirates", followed in 1982 by "Savage", a collection inspired by Wild West motifs. Both are part of the runway fashion shows as part of the London Designers Collection at the Olympia Exhibition Hall.
Westwood also introduces her collections in Paris, the first British fashion designer to do so since Mary Quandt, the inventor of the miniskirt.
Westwood and McLaren operate a second store at St. Christopher's Place in London.
The separation from McLaren leads the Westwood brand to a financial crisis, from which a licensing agreement with Giorgio Armani emerges in 1984 (dissolved in 1987).
Her Petrushka-inspired collection Mini Crini, still famous today, is created.
Westwood creates another classic with the Harris Tweed collection, marking a successful turning point in her career as a designer.
The first complete men's collection "Cut and Slash" followed, which became a permanent part of the brand portfolio in 1996.
Westwood was awarded the Order of the British Empire.
Westwood holds teaching positions at the University of Applied Arts Vienna and the Berlin University of the Arts. In Vienna, she also met Andreas Kronthaler, a student, whom she married in 1992. He continues to work for her company as a designer until now.
Westwood designs theater costumes for the first time for the performance of the Threepenny Opera at the Burgtheater in Vienna.
The designer opens a boutique in New York.
The retrospective "Vivienne Westwood: 34 Years in Fashion" is held at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. It is the largest exhibition the museum has ever dedicated to a designer.
Westwood received the Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) award.
Westwood designs uniforms for the British airline Virgin Atlantic and for the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra's New Year's Concert.
Launch of various collaborations with Asics, Vans and Buffalo, as well as Eastpak.
After the last participation in London Fashion Week 2019, Westwood has decided to present her fashion only digitally for environmental reasons.
The designer will receive the Leonardo da Vinci Award in Florence for her life's work.
- Naomi Campbell's fall on 23 cm heel platform shoes at a Westwood fashion show in 1993/94 achieves worldwide attention.
- The nine fashion volumes of Opus 2008 published by Westwood weigh 20 kg each and are the largest fashion books ever published. The photographs they contain were taken with the world's largest Polaroid camera.
- In addition to fashion, Westwood also creates tea sets and Swatch watches, as well as various women's perfumes.
- The Brit has been politically and literarily active since the beginning of her career. Since 2007, in agreement with PETA, she no longer uses animal skins for her productions, donates to environmental organizations, and actively campaigns for the protection of indigenous peoples. Her fashion collections are also subject to a variety of international certifications and principles of sustainability, use recycled materials, and strive for transparent supply chains.
- Until 1993, Westwood lived in public housing until Kronthaler persuaded her to move into a 1703 Queen Anne-style house that belonged to Captain Cook's mother.