Vivienne Westwood started off as a primary school teacher to become a renowned fashion designer. She was born in 1941 in Derbyshire and moved to London as a teenager when her parents relocated due to work. She married an airline steward Derek Westwood, and a year later, her son was born. It was a fateful meeting in 1965 when a chance meeting with a situationist artist Malcolm McLaren will transform Vivienne Westwood from a teacher to a fashion pioneer whose creative drive will change the British fashion industry.
Malcolm McLaren convinced Vivienne Westwood to launch a radical retail store in London’s Kings Road, called Let it Rock, Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die, Sex and Seditionaries. In 1976, they will create the most revolutionary street style: punk. Often decades ahead of her time, Westwood launched her eponymous collection in 1981, called Pirate, and then followed by Buffalo Girl, Witches and Punkature. Her collections were groundbreaking not only in their pattern-cutting technique but also in the thought process behind them. She would borrow from Dior’s New Look, and combine it with British aristocracy, rewriting the rules on tailoring. She reinvigorated the interest in British fashion and has become one of the most celebrated British designers and paved the way for the younger British fashion designers who followed in her footsteps.
Vivienne Westwood’s Autumn-Winter collection 1981-82 “Pirates”.
Photo source: David Corio
Key Success Factors:
She was not afraid to play with the rules of fashion, and experiment with different pattern-cutting techniques, textile and fabric. She was a complete revolutionary who unleashed her imagination by borrowing and being influenced from different eras, whether it is 19th-century Parisian fashion or Greek mythology. She is therefore considered an equal part of a fashion historian, as well as a creative visionary.