Dame Vivienne Westwood is one of the most famous fashion designers in the world. Her collections mix the classic with the cutting edge, and many of them have been controversial over the years. Here is a history of her clothing brand and how it has evolved over the years.
Vivienne Westwood began designing clothes in 1971 when she opened her first shop at 430 King's Road, called 'Let It Rock', with her partner Malcolm McLaren. They later renamed the shop 'SEX', and began selling unusual and shocking items including rubber clothing. In 1976, McLaren used clothes from the shop to dress the Sex Pistols, gaining Westwood instant fame.
The shop was later renamed 'Seditionaries - Clothes for Heroes' and redecorated in a futuristic style. It kept its edgy feel, selling ripped garments, leather clothing, badges, straps and buckles.
It was only in the 1980s that Westwood started to see herself as a fashion designer. After changing the shop again to 'World's End', which converted the interior into a ship complete with a sloped floor, she collaborated with McLaren to launch her first catwalk show, called 'Pirates', at Olympia in Spring 1981. This focused on a classic theme of pirates and highwaymen, and it was her first seminal collection.
A long line of fashion collections was to follow, starting with 'Savage' in 1982. This focused on an ethnic and primitive look, and it was followed the same year by 'Nostalgia of Mud', characterised by sheepskin jackets and tattered clothing. She also opened another shop, also called 'Nostalgia of Mud', which was styled like an archaeological dig.
'Punkature' followed in 1983, and then 'Witches' that same year. In 1984 'Hypnos' featured sleek garments and lots of fluorescent colours. She also had a big break when she appeared at the 'Best of Five' fashion awards in Tokyo alongside Calvin Klein. That same year, her 'Clint Eastwood' collection focused on clothing influenced by westerns. The following year, 'Mini-Crini' focused on a more shaped look.
Her provocative designs generated headlines and won her a global audience, and soon found herself focusing exclusively on her Vivienne Westwood brand.
The collections from 1988 to 1991 became known as 'The Pagan Years'. During this time, she focused less on punk and more on parodying the upper class, mixing traditional British clothing with pagan elements.
In 1990, she launched a menswear collection in Florence and was named the British Designer of the Year. In 1992 she was awarded an OBE, and six years later in 1998 she won the Queen's Export Award.
In 2007 at the British Fashion Awards, Westwood was awarded the prize for Outstanding Achievement in Fashion Design. Then at the Prince Philip Designers Prize in 2010 she received a commendation for her contribution to design from HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.
In 2010 she released her own stationery range including notebooks and diaries in her classic prints, and in the same year she unveiled a number of tablecloth designs to support the Cool Earth charity.
She launched her Ethical Fashion Africa collection in 2011/12 after going to Africa to work on it, and she then focused her 2012 menswear show on the Olympics. For the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, she launched a collection inspired by previous gowns the Queen had worn.
Vivienne Westwood is one of the most influential designers of the past few decades. Her inventive designs have attracted a legion of fans, and she continues to come up with original and sometimes controversial ideas. Her influence on the industry has been immense, and her position as Britain's greatest fashion designer is unrivalled.
The men's collection of ready to wear Vivienne Westwood clothing offers key detailing in an exclusive yet instantly recognisable range, for those who know their fashion.