Vintage Jewellery Designer Stories
The Story of Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne Westwood is a British fashion designer who has left a lasting impression on the fashion industry. Known for her unique designs, unconventional use of materials and her fearless approach to fashion, Westwood has been celebrated for her individuality and rebellious spirit for more than four decades. Her unconventional style and her impact on the industry has been felt by generations of fashion enthusiasts and designers alike.
In the beginning....
Westwood was born Vivienne Isabel Swire on April 8, 1941, in Tintwistle, Derbyshire, England. After completing her studies at a teacher training college, she moved to London in the 1960s to work as a primary school teacher. She began designing clothes in her spare time, and selling them at a stall on King's Road in Chelsea. It was during this time that she met Malcolm McLaren, a musician and manager of the punk band The Sex Pistols. The two became partners in business and in life, and together they began to create fashion that reflected the punk ethos of rebellion and anti-establishment sentiment.
Westwood's designs quickly gained a following among the youth culture of the time, thanks to their edgy, unconventional style. One of her most iconic creations was the "Anarchy in the UK" t-shirt, which was worn by members of The Sex Pistols during their performances. The t-shirt has now become an iconic piece of fashion history, often used to represent the punk movement.
The 1980s and 90s - the glory days
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Westwood continued to be an influential force in the fashion world, designing collections characterized by bold prints, unusual fabrics, and avant-garde silhouettes. Her designs often incorporated elements of historical dress, as well as inspiration from punk and fetish subcultures. In the 1980s, Westwood collaborated with the English label Worlds End to create the infamous "Pirate Collection," featuring clothing and accessories inspired by pirates and sailors.
One of Westwood's most recognizable designs is the "Sex" shop t-shirt, which she created in 1974. The t-shirt featured a graphic of a naked cowgirl and was sold in her store on the King's Road. It became a symbol of Westwood's punk sensibility and anti-establishment attitude.
Westwood's jewellery designs are equally bold and unconventional. Her jewellery pieces, which were made from unexpected materials like bicycle chains and safety pins, captured the attention of fashion enthusiasts and collectors alike. In the 1990s, Westwood collaborated with Italian jewellery designer Francesca Amfitheatrof to create a range of high-end jewellery pieces. This collection featured large, sculptural pieces crafted from precious metals and gemstones.
Westwood's jewellery designs often draw inspiration from the punk and fetish subcultures that she has been associated with throughout her career. Her use of unconventional materials, like safety pins and bicycle chains, has been a hallmark of her jewellery designs. In the late 1990s, Westwood created a series of brooches and necklaces made from reclaimed bicycle chains. These pieces were highly sought after by collectors and are now considered rare and valuable.
In recent years, Westwood has continued to be a vocal advocate for sustainability and ethical fashion practices. She has used her platform to promote the use of organic and sustainable materials in fashion and has collaborated with a number of organizations to promote sustainable fashion practices. In 2011, Westwood launched the "Ethical Fashion Africa" project, which aimed to provide sustainable employment to women in Africa by creating fashion accessories from recycled materials.
Westwood's commitment to sustainability and ethical fashion practices has made her a leading voice in the fashion industry. Her influence has been felt not only in the design of clothing and accessories, but also in the way that fashion is produced and consumed. As the fashion industry continues to face challenges in terms of sustainability and ethical production, Westwood's legacy will undoubtedly continue to be an important one.
In recognition of her contributions to fashion, Westwood has received numerous awards and accolades, including a Damehood from the Queen of England in 2006. She has also been the subject of multiple museum exhibitions, including a retrospective at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 2004.
Westwood's impact on the fashion world extends beyond her designs and advocacy for sustainability. She has also been an important figure in promoting inclusivity and diversity in the industry. In 2018, she cast a diverse group of models in her Paris Fashion Week show, which featured clothing made from repurposed materials. The show was a statement against the fast fashion industry and its impact on the environment.
Westwood's commitment to inclusivity and diversity has also been evident in her collaboration with younger designers. In 2017, she collaborated with the design collective ASVOFF to create a collection featuring designs by emerging designers from around the world. The collection, which was shown during Paris Fashion Week, was a celebration of creativity and diversity in the fashion industry.
Westwood's influence on the fashion industry has been felt not only in the UK but also around the world. Her designs have been worn by celebrities, musicians, and fashion icons, and have been featured in numerous films and TV shows. Her designs have also been the subject of multiple books and documentaries, which have explored her impact on the industry and her advocacy for sustainability and ethical fashion practices.
Vivienne Westwood is a British fashion icon whose legacy has been felt for over four decades. Her unconventional approach to fashion design, her commitment to sustainability and ethical fashion practices, and her advocacy for inclusivity and diversity have made her a leading voice in the industry. Westwood's jewellery designs are highly sought after by collectors and fashion enthusiasts, and her bold and unconventional designs continue to inspire and influence the fashion world. As the industry continues to evolve, Westwood's influence will undoubtedly continue to be felt by generations of designers and fashion enthusiasts.