„I DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT ART GALLERIES… I’D NEVER SEEN AN ART BOOK, NEVER BEEN TO THE THEATER” – SAID VIVIENNE WESTWOOD ABOUT HER CHILDHOOD AND ADOLESCENCE. PRETTY HARD TO BELIEVE, ISN’T IT?
Vivienne, called “the mother of punk rock”, is one of the most influential and adored fashion designers. Born during the Second World War (1941) in a British village of Tintwistle, Derbyshire, this girl couldn’t possibly dream about wild and vivid life. When her family moved to Harrow in northwest London, the 17-year-old Vivienne started studying at the Harrow School of Art. But soon she figured out she would not be able to live off art. She married Derek Westwood, a Hoover factory apprentice, and took up a job as a primary school teacher.
But when she met Malcolm McLaren, it quickly became obvious that there was another path in her life she would follow. The teacher was spending her free time making her own jewelry which she was selling at a stall in Portobello. She also started designing clothes for herself and Malcolm. In 1971, Vivienne and Malcolm opened their first boutique – Let It Rock. It became popular among Teddy Boys but they weren’t the ones who inspired the shop’s owners. Vivienne was interested in bondage and fetishism that were slowly gaining popularity through London’s underground scene. Malcolm was fascinated by New York punk scene and Richard Hell’s ragged t-shirts. He was shown “Punk” fanzine that included everything that was of any interest to New York underground of that time. The scene was turning the music world upside down, discovering new bands that stood in opposition to supergroups, big stars and idols, like The Rolling Stones.
In 1972, Vivienne and Malcolm changed the name of the boutique to Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die. Their new inspiration was the rebellious Marlon Brando. In 1974, a new sign was welcoming the customers – SEX. The assortment included some S&M-inspired clothes and among those who dropped in regularly were members of Sex Pistols. Sid Vicious and Glen Matlock even worked in SEX for some time. Vivienne tried to incorporate more and more elements in her designs. Another one was Scottish tartan, made to look according to 17th and 18th century trends.
In 1976, SEX changed its name again, this time to Seditionaries, and since 1980 it’s been operating as World’s End and has been a part of queen Vivienne’s fashion empire. The punk granny, still remembered by true punk rockers, ceaselessly shocks the fashion world with her designs. She blends kitsch with current trends. She likes to tear elegant dresses and provokes whenever she can. Her latest hit includes her rubber-plastic shoes. Yes, they really smell like bubblegum.