Our very own Courtney's favourite fashion designer, the iconic Vivienne Westwood, was born Vivienne Swire in April 1941 in Tintwistle, Cheshire, UK. Let's look at some of the highlights of her career (Viv's not Courtneys 😂).
In 1958 her family moved to Harrow & Viv took a jewellery and silversmith course at what is now known as the University of Westminster. She left this as "I didn't know how a working-class girl like me could possibly make a living in the art world". Becoming a primary school teacher whilst designing her own jewellery & selling it in Portobello Road, it was during this period she met another punk icon to be, Malcolm McLaren.
In July 1962, wearing her own designed wedding dress Vivienne married Derek Westwood & bore a son, Ben in 1963.
Not too long after, Vivienne's relationship with McLaren meant the end of her marriage and she moved into a flat Clapham with him. 1967 being the year they had a child, Joseph.
Malcolm McLaren's management of The Sex Pistols in the early 70s meant Viv left her teaching and made clothes designed by McLaren for the band. Garnering the growth of the punk movement caused one punk stalwart to state "Vivienne and Malcolm use clothes to shock, irritate and provoke a reaction but also to inspire change. Mohair jumpers, knitted on big needles, so loosely that you can see all the way through them, T-shirts slashed and written on by hand, seams and labels on the outside, showing the construction of the piece; these attitudes are reflected in the music we make. It's OK to not be perfect, to show the workings of your life and your mind in your songs and your clothes."
Up until the early 80s Westwood & McLaren put together many collections at fashion shows all over the world. Both their names appearing on labelling. Around 1983 the partnership dissolved and Westwood went on alone. Through the 1980s she sought inspiration from many sources, coining the phrase "New Romantic", and ideas from the ballet 'Petrushka'.
In 2007 Westwood designed academic gowns for King's College London saying "Through my reworking of the traditional robe I tried to link the past, the present and the future. We are what we know."
In 2012 Westwood began working with Richard Branson on designs for the Virgin Atlantic aircrew. Launching in 2014 they were both functional but showcased her flare.
Vivienne Westwood is a huge advocate for a better planet. Being a notable support of various causes including Nuclear Disarmament & The Green Party. Her business makes concerted efforts to utilise sustainable processes and material where at all possible and continues to do so.
Always up for causing a disruption in 1992, Westwood was awarded an OBE. At the ceremony, Westwood wore no knickers, which was later captured by a photographer in the courtyard of Buckingham Palace. She later said, "I wished to show off my outfit by twirling the skirt. It did not occur to me that, as the photographers were practically on their knees, the result would be more glamorous than I expected,"
A keen gardener & vegetarian Vivienne Westwood married Austrian Andreas Kronthaler in 1992.
This woman contributed more than we all realised to British Fashion, creating a culture, a genre & keeping Britain at the forefront of disruptive style.
You can read more detail about the iconic Vivienne Westwood here.
You can find items to cut up and create your own disruptive fashion here