“The whole basis of my work is analyzing what I do and building some sort of intellectual framework. The only possible effect one can have on the world is through unpopular ideas. They are the only subversion.” -Vivienne Westwood
The Queen of punk, Vivienne Westwood, was the first designer to take rebellious style off the streets and onto the runway. Westwood got her start as a teacher at the Harrow Art School in England after attending only one semester there. It wasn’t until she paired up with Sex Pistols’ manager, Malcolm McLaren, in 1971 when the two opened their first London clothing shop. Westwood was fascinated with the punk scene and her first break out designs featured ‘bondage’ pants, taking the straps and buckles out of the underground sex clubs and onto the streets.
Westwood draws from a wide range of subjects which is why her collections tend to be so diverse in styles. Paintings by Boucher, Courbet and others have provided Westwood with some of her more artful and elegantly tailored looks in silks and brocades while her punk muses the Sex Pistols add to the fierce anti-establishment overtones of her clothing shown through her ripped muslin and mohair textiles.
Her ad campaigns have featured celebrities such as rock star Marilyn Manson, fetish model and burlesque performer Dita Von-Teese, and actress-model Pamela Anderson. Each of these faces carry the idea of Westwood’s clothing. They are both beautiful and vulgar, sexual and political.