Vivienne Westwood (born April 8, 1941, Glossop, Derbyshire, England), British fashion designer known for her provocative clothing. With her partner, Malcolm McLaren, she extended the influence of the 1970s punk music movement into fashion.
A self-taught designer, in 1965 Westwood met and moved in with McLaren, future manager of the punk band the Sex Pistols. Together they pursued a career in fashion. Initially, they operated Let It Rock, a stall selling secondhand 1950s vintage clothing along with McLaren’s rock-and-roll record collection. Westwood produced clothing designs based on his provocative ideas. Their customized T-shirts, which were ripped and emblazoned with shocking antiestablishment slogans and graphics, and their bondage trousers—black pants featuring straps inspired by sadomasochistic costume—flew out of the London shop of which the couple became proprietors in 1971.
Westwood’s “mini-crini” design—a thigh-grazing crinoline produced in both cotton and tweed that debuted as part of her spring-summer 1985 collection—marked a turning point. For the next two decades she created collections that took inspiration from classical sources, notably the paintings of Jean-Honoré Fragonard, François Boucher, and Thomas Gainsborough, as well as historical British dress, including the 19th-century bustle, which Westwood incorporated under elaborate knitwear dresses and tartan miniskirts.
Independently, Westwood built her own eponymous mini fashion empire, operating numerous boutiques and producing two menswear and three women’s wear collections annually as well as bridal clothes, shoes, hosiery, eyewear, scarves, ties, knitwear, cosmetics, and perfumes. On April 1, 2004, a retrospective devoted to her creations opened at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. “Vivienne Westwood: 34 Years in Fashion” was the largest exhibition the museum had ever dedicated to a British designer. She was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1992 and advanced to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 2006.
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