Vivienne Westwood is an icon and living legend. She is a fashion designer, activist, co-creator of punk and a global brand.
Westwood began designing in 1971 with her then partner Malcolm McLaren in London, when the capital was at the forefront of global cultural trends. They opened a shop at 430 King’s Road to showcase their ideas and designs. In 1976, to reflect their changing ideas about fashion, they altered the shop’s décor and renamed it Seditionaries, turning the shop into a landmark and simultaneously claiming the street culture of punk as their own.
By the end of the Seventies, Vivienne Westwood was already considered a symbol of the British avant-garde. For Autumn/Winter 1981 she showed her first catwalk presentation at Olympia in London. Pirates was a unisex collection of clothes, inspired by historical costume, for swashbuckling heroes – highwaymen, dandies, buccaneers and pirates. The clothes were sold from the King’s Road shop which was renamed World’s End and redesigned to resemble a ship, complete with a slanting wooden floor.
Westwood later turned to 17th and 18th-century art for inspiration and adopted traditional Savile Row tailoring techniques, using British fabrics such as tartan and tweed.
These elements continue to inform her collections today. In 2004, London’s Victoria & Albert museum hosted a Vivienne Westwood retrospective exhibition to celebrate her 34 years in fashion. Back then, the exhibition was the largest ever devoted to a living British fashion designer. In 2006, her contribution to British Fashion was officially recognised when she was appointed Dame of the British Empire by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Vivienne Westwood met Andreas Kronthaler in 1989. He would later become her husband and long-time design partner, as well as creative director of the brand.
In 2016, Westwood’s semi-couture Gold Label collection was renamed Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood, an acknowledgment of Andreas’ commitment to the house and influence over the Gold Label collections of the past 25 years. The iconic collection, which draws on luxurious and couture techniques, stands alongside the mainline Vivienne Westwood unisex collection with a focus on traditional British fabrics, tailoring and the iconic Westwood silhouette. The house also offers bespoke made-to-measure and bridal services, cocktail dresses and evening gowns from its Davies Street, Mayfair boutique.
Vivienne Westwood has always used her collections and catwalk shows as a platform to campaign for positive activism. She has spent many years tirelessly speaking out about the effects of climate change and overconsumption, and has mobilised international attention around ecological crusading.
Today, Westwood is one of the last independent global fashion companies in the world. Recently adding New York and Paris flagship stores to its portfolio of boutiques in London, Milan, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong and Shanghai, Westwood continues to capture the imagination on an international stage. With a design record spanning over 40 years, Vivienne Westwood is recognised as a global brand and as one of the most influential fashion designers, and activists, in the world today.
VIVIENNE WESTWOOD 44 CONDUIT STREET, LONDON, W1S 2YL +44 (0)20 7439 1109