Designer who refused to stand on ceremony

From Seventies porn-print T-shirts to ballgowns costing thousands, the Vivienne Westwood exhibition features over 150 designs selected from the V&A collection and her own archive.

It encompasses her love of historical reference, her twists on British tradition and her gentle parodies of royalty.... and the towering blue shoes Naomi Campbell came a cropper on the catwalk with.

Vivienne's fashion career started when she and Malcolm McLaren set up shop at 430 Kings Road in Chelsea, selling Fifties memorabilia.

By 1974, rubber S&M clothing and ripped Tees had taken over the rails.

Two years later, the Sex Pistols played their first gig wearing them.

Her first catwalk collection, Pirates, caused a storm. She had taken traditional and historical cutting principles and reworked them. Blowsy pirate shirts, brocade waistcoats and pantaloons worn with cuffed boots were all about romantic adventure, daring to go where others hadn't.

Just like Vivienne.

In the years that followed, we gawped at the Savage collection, then the Wild West-inspired Buffalo.

And in the midst of the Dallas and Dynasty-inspired Eighties, Vivienne turned the power dressing look on its backside. No need for big, masculine shoulders; how much more powerful than to display a woman's curves with a corsetted waist and a swaying mini crinoline?

Ten years on from punk, Vivienne returned to the London catwalks with designs inspired by one of her earlier muses - Queen Elizabeth II, though this time the monarch was without a safety pin through her nose.

Westwood's fascination for English tailoring had led her to look at the Queen's tweedy, suited wardrobe as a young woman.

Over the years, she has reworked many a style classic. In 1993, she even invented her own tartan. The MacAndreas was named after her 25 years her junior husband,

There have been many accolades but clearly, none have gone to her head –or tamed her wild side.

When she went to Buckingham Palace for her OBE in 1992 and the DBE Order of the British Empire four years on, she went knickerless on both occasions - and was as proud of the fact as she was her medals.


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