“The only reason I am in fashion is to destroy the word ‘conformity”


With black leather, chains and ripped fabrics held up as best she could with safety pins, Vivienne tore British respectability to shreds, exploring all the possibilities of style with her unconventional baggage, dressing generations of rebellious youth, first with leather and studs, then with corsets, paniers and garters.

The World cries out for Vivienne Westwood, Fashion’s last Rebel.

Nonconformist, rebel, activist. On Thursday 29 December, the world said goodbye to Vivienne Westwood, the Punk fashion pioneer who in her prime and until the end of her days fought to save our Planet, raise people’s awareness of animals and spur them on to conscientious buying:

“Buy less, choose better and make what you buy last longer. Focus on quality, not quantity.”

Born in Tintwistle, County Derbyshire, in 1941 into a blue-collar family, she began her career as a self-taught designer at only 17, which would lead her, not long after, to open her first store at 430 King’s Road: the legendary ‘SEX’ Boutique.

Here, in collaboration with Malcolm McLaren of the Sex Pistols, she would cultivate the carnivorous plants of British Punk, sprouting that controversial subculture that would be short-lived, but profoundly impactful on British society and the world.

Vivienne Westwood in her store in Chelsea, SEX

With black leather, chains and ripped fabrics held up as best she could with safety pins, Vivienne tore British respectability to shreds, exploring all the possibilities of style with her unconventional baggage, dressing generations of rebellious youth, first with leather and studs, then with corsets, paniers and garters.

Vivienne leaves behind a message to cherish yourself, nothing else. To celebrate one’s authenticity through the ritual-manifesto of the clothes we wear. She, who fought against global pollution, animal rights and gender inequality until and even at the point of death, represents one of the last bastions of the rebellion that becomes fashion: a contemporary interpretation of our society through timeless, iconic clothes.

Westwood with Jordan Mooney, musa dei Sex Pistols

Read also: “Jordan and the carnivorous plants of English Punk” here.

His inexhaustible combative energy has expressed itself in every possible way: from public statements to demonstrations to mobilize public opinion. Memorable is her ‘Climate Revolution’ collection of 2021, accompanied by the drafting of a Manifesto called ‘I want you to help me save the world, but I can’t do it alone’, with which she wanted to mobilize international attention on the theme of ecology and spur the new generations to save the planet.

In this editorial, we retrace the most memorable phases of her astonishing career, through the  significant collections, thanks to which she achieved extraordinary recognition, earning the respect and appreciation of the entire world, as well as the title of Dame of the British Empire.

Vivienne Westwood’s 5 fashion phases that transformed fashion and society.

1) Punk 1971 – 1980

Vivienne and Malcolm began designing their own t-shirts with provocative slogans that led to them being prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act of 1959.

In 1974 the shop was renamed Sex, a shop ‘unlike anything else in England at the time’, with the slogan ‘rubber office wear’.

The shop reopened as Seditionaries, turning the straps and zips of dark sexual fetishism and bondage into fashion, and inspiring a D.I.Y. aesthetic. The media labelled it ‘Punk Rock’.

The collapse of the Sex Pistols and the mainstream adoption of punk left Vivienne disenchanted. In 1980, the shop was refurbished and renamed Worlds End, a name still in use today.

Meanwhile, Vivienne decided to shed her skin, leaving the punk style to the masses.

2) Neo Romantic Pirates 1981 – 1987

London Fashion Week 1981. Vivienne momentarily abandons the black leather and studs of punk to dress a horde of buccaneers ready to board, revisited with a New Romantic twist.

The collection will be adopted by British New Romantic artists, from Club Culture to Adam and the Ants.

With Pirates, Vivienne no longer draws from street style, youth culture fashion, subcultures, no longer play an important role in her work. After moving to Italy, her source of inspiration instead becomes sartorial culture, the traditional techniques of Savile RowBritish textiles and the art of the 17th and 18th centuries and the maxi-volumes of the 18th century French style.

3) Paganism 1988 – 1993

Vivienne abandoned punks and buccaneers in favor of clochards and English ‘Tatler’ girls. She adopted ‘Tweed’ as the fabric-manifesto of the period, mocked contemporary society by parading models in brazen attitudes, scandalized public opinion. As always.

A chance encounter inspired one of the most iconic collections of the period, “Harris Tweed” from autumn-winter 1987: a 14-year-old girl seen on the underground wearing a small chignon with braids, a Harris Tweed jacket and a bag with a pair of ballet shoes.

Vivienne shows Peruvian women in bowler hats and full skirts, dancing with their babies tied on their backs for what is a revolutionary collection: for the first time bras, underwear, corsets and garters become an external element to be proudly displayed. Underwear becomes a symbol of sensuality not to be concealed.
Vivienne Westwood “Buffalo Girls” (Nostalgia of Mud) FW82 Collection
When the designer flew to NY she was literally 'bewitched' by the Hip Hop culture, the streetyle and Street Art of Keith Haring: a kind of contemporary, colourful and hypnotic hieroglyphics.She thus created the stop-frame collection 'Whitches' in collaboration with the New York artist, which was to be shown at New York Fashion Week autumn-winter 1983/84.
Vivienne Westwood “Witches” FW83

4) Anglomania 1993 – 1999

During this period Westwood examined the relationship between fashion and art, being inspired by the costumes depicted in the art of the classical, medieval and Renaissance periods. She opens her imaginary ‘Boudoir’, populated by silk corsets, draped silhouettes and pearl necklaces.

5) Activism 2000 – 2023

Vivienne puts her creations and her fame at the service of the planet. From this period onwards, all her production will be a megaphone with which to shout to the world the things that don’t work and that must change.

She collaborates with environmental non-profit organizations, such as Canopy for World Earth Day 2020, supporting her campaign to protect forests through her choice of fabrics.

2018 saw the launch of Vivienne Westwood’s collaboration with Burberry, supporting the UK-based non-profit organization Cool Earth, which raises funds to help protect endangered rainforests, combat global warming, protect ecosystems and provide jobs for local people.

Vivienne Westwood‘s last physical fashion show took place at London Fashion Week Autumn-Winter 2019. Since then, she has decided to digitize fashion shows as well, for environmental reasons.

Thank you forever. God save the Dame.



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