Vivienne westwood story

1971 – 1980

The hippie movement was still the fashion look of late 1960s London, but this did not inspire Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, they were more interested in rebellion and in particular 1950s clothing, music and memorabilia. Vivienne began by making Teddy Boy clothes for McLaren and in 1971 they opened Let it Rock at 430 Kings Road.

By 1972 the designer’s interests had turned to biker clothing, zips and leather. The shop was re-branded with a skull and crossbones and renamed Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die. Westwood and McLaren began to design t-shirts with provocative messages leading to their prosecution under the obscenity laws; their reaction was to re-brand the shop once again and produce even more hard core images. By 1974 the shop had been renamed Sex, a shop ‘unlike anything else going on in England at the time’ with the slogan ‘rubberwear for the office’.

In 1976 the Sex Pistol’s God Save the Queen, managed by McLaren, went to number one and was refused air time by the BBC. The shop reopened as Seditionaires transforming the straps and zips of obscure sexual fetishism into fashion and inspiring a D. I. Y. aesthetic. The media called it ‘Punk Rock’.
The collapse of the Sex Pistols and the absorption of Punk into the mainstream left Westwood disenchanted. In 1980 the shop was refitted and renamed Worlds End, the name still in use today.


The Pirate Collection of 1981 was Westwood and McLaren’s first catwalk show. This offered a romantic look which burst onto the London fashion scene and ensured this collection’s place in history.

‘We’ve only stopped to note significant innovations, otherwise the ideas carry through and develop throughout the collections.’

Pirates, AW 1981-82, first catwalk show.
– Plundering history and

the Third World.
– Research into historical dress, keeping the original cuts as fashion.
– Inspiration from Native Americans. Ethnic cuts.
– Pirate trousers had a baggy bum/complete contrast to hippy hipsters and tight arse.
– Position of neck hole – when worn, garment is asymmetrical.
– At this important point in her career, Vivienne developed ethnic cutting techniques which are based on rectangles. She has an idea she knows will work, knocks it up in rough and in small scale and tries it out on a little dummy. Through various adjustments and fittings she arrives at a full scale finished garment in the right fabric. Clothes always have a dynamic with the body. She continues to mix this in with historical cuts.

Savage, SS 1982
Buffalo Girls (Nostalgia of Mud), AW 1982-83

– Colours: Mud.
– Raw cut sheepskin.
– Bras – underwear worn as outerwear.
– Inspiration: Peruvian women wearing bowler hats and full skirts, dancing with their babies tied on their back.
– Collaboration with Malcolm McLaren ceased.

Punkature, SS 1983
– Inspiration: Blade Runner, desert landscape.
– Distressed fabric and recycled junk.
Witches, AW 1983-84
– Visit to New York, met Keith Haring. His art looked like magic signs and hieroglyphs. Therefore – collection ‘Witches’.
– Hip hop, styling of garments stop-frame look, white trainers customized with three tongues, pointed Chico Marx hats.

Hypnos, SS 1984
– Image: Greek God of Sleep.
– Collection very active, sporty, nothing to do with sleep. Very hip.

Clint Eastwood, AW 1984-85
– Westwood said, “Sometimes you need to transport your idea to an empty landscape and then populate it with fantastic looking people.”

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Vivienne westwood story