Vivienne Westwood image

Vivienne Westwood

Leadership and Investment in People is at the Heart of the Midlands, and probably no better example than Dame Vivienne Westwood.

Westwood was inspired by the shock-value of punk

Born in Tintwistle, a village in the High Peak District of Derbyshire, on 8th April 1941, Westwood first came to public notice when she made clothes for Malcolm McLaren's boutique in the King's Road.


Punk. Dame. Designer. Rebel. Millionaire. Mother. Radical. All words one could use to describe Vivienne Westwood, a woman who is perhaps the most influential British designer the world has ever seen.


Between them they were able to synthesise clothing and music that shaped the 1970s UK punk scene, dominated by McLaren's band, the Sex Pistols. Vivienne Westwood became one of British fashions most iconic designers as well as a shrewd businesswoman.


Westwood's inspiration was from bikers, fetishists and prostitutes.

She was largely responsible for bringing modern punk and new wave fashions into the mainstream. The ‘punk style’ included safety pins, razor blades, bicycle or lavatory chains on clothing and spiked dog collars for jewellery, as well as outrageous make-up and hair. Westwood created clothes with McLaren, drawing inspiration from bikers, fetishists and prostitutes. Essential design elements include the adoption of traditional elements of Scottish design such as tartan fabric.


Over the course five decades, the girl born Vivienne Isabel Swire has gone from punk-provocateur to Britain’s best loved fashion designer. Raised in the D.I.Y. climate of post-war Derbyshire, it was 1970s London where she opened the Kings Road boutique that launched her name and, along with co-conspirator Malcolm McLaren, gave birth to Britain’s most defining youth movement: punk. In the years that followed - from Pirates to Mini Crini, Harris Tweed to the present day - she plundered history, pioneering the idea that fashion could be about more than just clothes - it could be about protest too. Join us, as we meet the incendiary grande dame behind the name, and discover more about a bone fide i-D icon: Vivienne Westwood.


Westwood going it alone

The partnership of McLaren and Westwood showed collections in Paris and London with the thematic titles such as Savages, Buffalo/Nostalgia Of Mud, Punkature, Witches, and Worlds End in 1984. After the partnership with McLaren was dissolved, Westwood showed one more collection featuring the Worlds End label: ‘Clint Eastwood.’ She employed the services of Patrick Cox to design shoes for her ‘Clint Eastwood’ collection in 1984. The result was a prototype for nine-inch-heeled shoes like the ones worn by supermodel Naomi Campbell when she fell during a Westwood fashion show in Paris in 1993.


Forget fashion, this is about climate change.


Knickerless at Buckingham Palace!

In 1992, Westwood was awarded an OBE, which she collected from Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. At the ceremony, Westwood was knicker-less, which was later captured by a photographer in the courtyard of Buckingham Palace. Westwood later said, ‘I wished to show off my outfit by twirling the skirt. It did not occur to me that, as the photographers were practically on their knees, the result would be more glamorous than I expected,’ and added: “I have heard that the picture amused the Queen.” Westwood advanced from OBE to DBE in the 2006 New Year's Honours List "for services to fashion", and has twice earned the award for British Designer of the Year.

Westwood has always been a protester, championing the causes of anti-fracking, anti-atomic weapons, bees and human rights – What a woman!

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