The revolutionary Dame of British fashion, Vivienne Westwood by Valeria Boi
When it comes to luxury fashion, the first thought goes to Italy and France, the capitals of craftsmanship and high quality. But an important mention must be given to the British high-end fashion, because London is one of the most iconic fashion city, with its renowned fashion schools, where different cultures meet, full of emerging designers and source of inspiration.
Few months ago, 29 December 2022, the British fashion landscape lost its Dame of the British Empire leaving her legacy to the new generations.
Source: Francois Durand - Getty Image
With Vivienne Westwood London became punk London, because she was the pioneer in punk fashion. She considered punk not just a matter of clothes, but a political movement.
In 1971, SEX in 430 Kings Road was the store where Vivienne Westwood and her partner Malcom McLaren brought their ideas to life, where their clothes carried political and cultural messages, laying the foundation for the punk style. Bondage trousers, studs, chains, reinvented street fashion. Her style made the Sex Pistols famous ( band promoted and managed by McLaren ) and their first fashion show was in 1981, with the “Pirate” collection. After that she continued to work by herself, building a brand in which the element of the past merges with the future.
She was a provocative, with the anarchic T-shirt “Destroy” in 1977, the emblem of the punk politics, a message against dictators.
But she was herself a craftswoman and she knew the importance of hand-shaped traditional garments and of fabrics and their manufacturing. She used material such as Harris Tweed, made from handcrafted virgin wool, and after that other designer started to use it in their collections, promoting the local production.
From 1970 she used Scottish tartan from the manufacturer Lochcarron of Scotland, made by craftsmen and women.
The references to historical styles is evident in The Mini-Crini, designed for a collection of the same name in 1985, combines the construction of the Victorian crinoline with the modern mini-skirt. The bell-like skirt and the corset became one of Westwood's most iconic looks.
Click here to view a curated Vivienne Westwood corset collection
She always had environmental causes at heart, she promoted ethical fashion, supporting artisans from African communities, producing accessories in Kenya and to empower female workers, fighting for the climate change.
On the interview at Guardian live she said: resources are running out, “Buy less, choose well and make it last”
The brand image is associated with the orbit symbol, present not only in clothing but also in jewelry and accessories.
The orb motif is inspired by the Sovereign’s Orb, one of the crown jewels, and the rings of Saturn, establishing the link between the past of the British royalty and the future of the space symbolism.
It is worth mentioning one of the most desired dresses since 2007. People can’t forget the iconic dress worn in Sex and the City, inspired by the Cloud gown of the Gold Label Collection 2007- 2008, redesigned by Vivienne Westwood for the character Carrie Bradshaw.
Source: Getty Images - iconic dress worn in Sex and the City.
With its pointed corset, shaped waist and the sculptural bi-color taffeta skirt, that dress embodied the essence of the brand and captured people’s heart.
This dress gained so much visibility and the public liked it so much that the brand created a series of garments inspired by it, like the Wilma corset.
With her death, the fashion world has lost not only the most influential of British designers, but a woman with a strong and influential personality who has been able to carry on her ideas without fear. Her style between past and future, revolutionary and meaningful.
Her husband Andreas Kronthaler was by her side for 30 years, and he is continuing to work as the Creative Director of the brand. There will be new collections, new creations and the brand will continue with its history.
But it’s undeniable that the brand will always be linked to Vivienne Westwood, her personality and her face will always remain in the minds and hearts of future generations too, the love for tradition and the strength to support social and environmental causes.