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renamed ‘SEX’, a shop ‘unlike anything else

going on in England at the time’ with the

slogan ‘rubberwear for the office’. After

the Sex Pistol’s ‘God Save the Queen’ went

to number one and was refused air time

by the BBC, the shop was reopened as

‘Seditionaries’’ and transformed the straps

and zips of obscure sexual fetishism into

fashion and inspiring D.I.Y aesthetics, which

the media called ‘Punk Rock’. In 1980, two

years after the Sex Pistols had split, the

shop was refitted and renamed ‘Worlds

End’ and remains so until this day.

From her very first collection shown in

spring 1981 to her current offering ‘Intellec-

tuals Unite’,VivienneWestwood’s influences

in the fashion world knows no limits. The

AW81 collection ‘Pirate’ debuted the

designer’s and McLaren’s very first catwalk

show and kick-started the new romantic

look as well as dominated the ‘80s sub-cul-

tures. It was shown at Olympia to a blast

of cannon fire and rap music by McLaren,

with the clothes evoking the golden age

of piracy, an age of highwaymen, dandies

and buccaneer. Her next two collections

‘Savage’ and ‘Nostalgia of Mud’ opened up

Westwood’s horizons and was influenced

by ethnic and primitive looks taken from


National Geographic

magazine. McLaren

described the idea behind the collection as,

“We want to get out of this island mentality

and relate ourselves to those taboos and

magical things we believe we have lost.” The

SS82 collection combined Native Ameri-

can patterns with leather frock coats and

featured Foreign Legion hats worn back-

to-front, ‘petti-drawers’ and shorts, while

the AW82 featured huge tattered skirts and

sheepskin jackets in muddy colours.

The SS83 ‘Punkature’ collection which

carried images from Ridley Scott’s film

Blade Runner

still carried a raw feeling

and emphasised on pre-washed and over-

printed natural fabrics, with a play on the

words ‘punk’ and ‘couture’. Moving over to

the dark side, Westwood’s and McLaren’s

AW83 ‘Witches’ collection discovered ‘a

magical, esoteric sign language’ in the work

of New York graffiti artist Keith Haring,

which they printed in fluorescent colours

on backgrounds that resembled firework

paper. The collection featured oversized

jackets and coats, double-breasted jackets

and huge cream cotton mackintoshes that

were worn with knitted jacquard bodies,

tube skirts and pointed hats. The clothing

was accompanied with customised train-

ers that had three tongues which emulated

the freeze-frame effect of strobe lighting

and the jerky sound of rap music. “Like

sequences of things, where people are dis-

located somehow at the same time that

they’re moving.” This was the final collec-

tion that McLaren and Westwood worked

on together.

Life after McLaren increased Westwood’s

creativity and it wasn’t long before the

designer found a new business partner,

Carlo d’Amarion who remains the man-

aging director of her company today.

The designer’s SS84 ‘Hypnos’ collection

featured sleek garments made out of syn-

thetic sports fabric in fluorescent pinks

and greens and were fastened with rubber

phallus buttons.Westwood rubbed shoul-

ders with the likes of Calvin Klein, Claude

Montana and Gianfranco Ferre in Tokyo

when her collection was shown at Hanae

Mori’s ‘Best of Five’ global fashion awards.

Following this, her AW84 ‘Clint Eastwood’

collection hankered after the wide open

spaces seen in Western films. She said,

“Sometimes you need to transport your

idea to a world that doesn’t exist and then

populate it with fantastic looking people.”

The collection included garments smoth-

ered in Italian company logos and Day-Glo

patches inspired by Tokyo’s neon signs.

The designer’s creative ideas went from

strength to strength with an emphasis on

the Harris Tweed which celebrated her

love affair with traditional English cloth-

ing and also surprisingly her growing

obsession with royalty, a far cry from

her earlier rebellion ideals. She returned

to deriving eclectic pieces in her ‘Britain

Must Go Pagan’ collections, combining tra-

ditional British themes with classical and

pagan elements including classical drapery

paired with tweed, Smedley underwear

overprinted with pornographic images

from ancient Greece, ‘Miss Marple’ suits

in Harris Tweed and articulated jackets

inspired by medieval armour and printed

Sèvres patterns on classical ‘togas’ creating

a collection that ‘telescoped time’. More

collections followed that helped shape the

face of fashion and set VivienneWestwood

as one of the pioneers that we will remem-

ber and cherish for a long time to come.

With the support of husband Andreas

Kronthaler’s creative direction behind her,

there are no signs of Vivienne Westwood

slowing down any time soon. Hers is a

story of influence, provocative ideas and

pressing issues that has shaped her career

in the most respectable way, albeit a few

controversies along the way. After all, if it

hadn’t been for Westwood and McLaren,

we probably wouldn’t have had the punk