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Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood, Rebel and the Unwitting Mother of Punk


Westwood, a visionary artist, was one of the main creators of the punk and new wave look in 1970s England.

At the beginning of the 1970s at 430 King’s Road there was a boutique that would become legendary within England’s punk and new wave movement. The shop had several names before becoming notorious for its sign that simply read “SEX”: it was the first boutique where Vivienne Westwood sold her clothing designs.

As is well known, this extravagant English dame was one of the creators of punk fashion and esthetics. There was something in her designs that irresistibly caught the attention of members of the anarchist subculture, among them The Sex Pistols, who spread the infatuation among their cohorts.

From a poor family, Westwood moved from Derbyshire to London at the age of 17. She studied art and specialized in fashion design and as a silversmith, but was unable to make a living from that and turned to teaching, and she worked was a schoolteacher. But on the side she made and sold jewelry in Portobello Market, in Notting Hill.

It was at the beginning of the 1960s that she met Malcolm McLaren, a musician, visual artist, clothing designer and, eventually, manager of The Sex Pistols. A short time after they met the two moved to the London neighborhood of Clapham, the nucleus of the anarchic-punk movement, and he opened the shop Let it Rock that several years later would become the legendary SEX —and which is today called Worlds End.

With McLaren, Westwood began to develop her artistic creativity and affiliate herself naturally with the London counter-culture climate of the time. Vivienne began to dress The Sex Pistols and in various ways create their image. She knew how to create a happy mix between fashion, music and politics and without planning to establish the esthetic principles that would define a generation of young people around the world.

Dog collars, razor blades, printed T-shirts, safety pins, studs, black leather; Vivienne Westwood was and still is passionate about the rebel and counter-culture principles of punk.

Paradoxically, today she is Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and has also been awarded the distinction of Royal Designer for Industry. She has won the British Designer of the Year award on three occasions and continues to work for diverse political causes such as nuclear disarmament and against climate change. Westwood will publish her biography at the end of this year.

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