Vivienne Westwood was born in an English village called Tintwistle on the 8th of April 1941. When she turned 17 Vivienne and her parents moved to Harrow, London. There, she began studying at the Harrow School of Art. However, by the 1st term she was out, because as she says: “I didn’t know how a working-class girl like me could possibly make a living in the art world”. After abandoning the art career she took a job in a factory and started training for a primary school teacher. But art didn’t abandon her. She started creating jewellery and selling it at her very own stall at Portobello Road.
In 1961 Vivienne Swire met Derek Westwood, a factory apprentice in Harrow. By the next year they were married and in 1963 their first child-Benjamin Westwood was born.
In 1971 however, she met Malcolm McLaren (later the manager of The Sex Pistols) and her marriage with Derek was over. She moved out with her new love to Clapham and continued teaching to earn her living. That was, until Malcolm decided to open his boutique called “Let it rock” (later renamed to “Too fast to live, too young to die”, “Seditionaries” and “Sex”) nowadays called “Worlds ends”. Together, Vivienne and Malcolm created clothing inspired by bikers, fetishists and prostitutes. Clothing that was sold in their boutique and worn by The Sex Pistols and because of this quickly drew attention. The punk wave was starting to gain strength under the influence of these two people.
Vivienne was really into the new for her time ‘punk’ phenomenon. Rebellious make-up and hair, bondage gear, safety pins and spiked collars were all of main importance if you wanted to be a punk child. Westwood introduced some more traditional elements to this fashion movement, like tartan fabric for example. A traditionally Scottish element that she successfully combined with the outrageous punk pins and chains.
Westwood currently has 5 shops, most in Britain. She also has showrooms in Los Angelis, Milan and Paris.
The first fashion show in which Westwood designs were shown-off was in 1981 in collaboration with McLaren. Their theme was pirates and drew good media attention at the time. Many more fashion shows followed, all coming with their own theme. Savage, Buffalo Girls, Clint Eastwood are just some of the keywords of the famous designers runway parades of punk shock.