Vivienne Westwood Shoes BiographySource(google.com.pk)
Westwood was born Vivienne Isabel Swire in 1941 in Derbyshire. Aged 17 her family moved to London where she studied fashion and silversmithing at Harrow School of Art. She left after one term saying, “I didn't know how a working-class girl like me could possibly make a living in the art world” and took up a job in a factory while studying to be a teacher. She became a primary school teacher while also creating her own line of jewellery, which she sold on London’s Portobello Road.
In 1961 she met Derek Westwood and they married the following year, Vivienne in a wedding dress of her own making. When she met Malcolm McLaren, Westwood’s marriage to Derek ended and she moved into a council flat in Clapham with McLaren. Westwood continued to teach until she and Malcolm opened their first boutique. The hippie movement was still fashionable in late 1960s London, but Westwood and McLaren’s aesthetic was the antithesis of this. Drawing inspiration from youth rebellions of the 1950s and its related music, clothing and memorabilia, Westwood began making Teddy Boy clothes for McLaren. In 1971 they opened Let it Rock at 430 Kings Road.
During this early period McLaren became the manager of the hugely controversial punk band The Sex Pistols. The band garnered great attention and frequently wore Westwood and McLaren’s designs which had evolved from the early Rocker inspired designs to a much more aggressive look inspired by bikers to fetishists. The name of the shop changed to Sex in 1974.
The punk style popularised by Westwood and McLaren included bondage gear, PVC, safety pins, razor blades or bicycle chains on clothing and spiked dog collars for jewellery. Coupled with this was outrageous and sometimes aggressive make-up and hair. Adaptation of traditional Scottish tartans were used, and to this style Westwood added her own signature use of historical 17th and 18th century pattern cutting techniques, reinterpreted in radical ways. The use of these historical details coupled with the punk style made Westwood’s designs all the more shocking and anarchic.
Westwood still owns this first shop which is now called World’s End and sells the World’s End Vivienne Westwood collection. Westwood’s design eras have subsequently been categorised, distinct periods that show her many changes in inspiration, aesthetics and techniques.
Between the time Westwood and McLaren opened their first boutique and 1980 is known as the 430 Kings Road period.
The first Vivienne Westwood collection in 1981 marks the start of the Early Years. Together with McLaren, Westwood’s romantic anarchistic look burst onto London’s catwalk and subsequently went down in fashion history. Westwood and McLaren ended their relationship and collaboration in 1982.
Westwood christened the period between 1988 and 1992 ‘The Pagan Years’ during which her look changed from the punk, street led ‘guttersnipe’ one of her early years, to what has been described as one being inspired by “‘Tatler’ girls wearing clothes that parodied the upper class”. The Vivienne Westwood collection of AW87 was inspired by a little girl Westwood saw on the tube. Dressed in Harris Tweed and sporting a handbag and a pair of ballet shoes, Westwood was inspired by “such composure and elegance in one so young”.
The period from 1993 to 1999 has been dubbed ‘Anglomania’. During this period Westwood explored and expanded on a belief that fashion is based on an amalgamation and exchange of ideas between England and France. “On the English side we have tailoring and an easy charm, on the French side that solidity of design and proportion that comes from never being satisfied because something can always be done to make it better, more refined.”
The period from 2000 to the present day has been called ‘Exploration’ where Westwood began to set aside historicism and returned to her early asexual cut, exploring the organic nature of fabric.
Westwood, and in part McLaren, revolutionised fashion and its place within society and their impact is still felt today. The modern Westwood empire comprises of the ‘Gold Label’ which is a demi-couture line of ready-to-wear and made to measure pieces, ‘Red Label’ a younger range of tailoring and easy pieces, ‘Anglomania’ her second diffusion line and her most youthful one and ‘Man’ her menswear line.
The queen of the unexpected, Westwood has created a raft of irreverent and memorable designs from men’s kilts to cone-shaped bras as day wear; from classical paintings printed onto underwear to mini crinoline; from fake fur trains to woolly royal crowns. Unusually her designer contemporaries have also lavished praise on Westwood. Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons fame said “I think Vivienne's means of expression is profound. Her way of smashing tradition to create something totally new, is wonderful.”
Westwood has influenced and launched the careers of a number of others. She worked with Patrick Cox to design shoes for her Clint Eastwood collection in 1984, the result of which were an early version of the shoes that famously toppled Naomi Campbell.
Westwood is widely known as a political activist and has courted controversy many times in the press. In April 1989 Westwood appeared on the cover of Tatler dressed as the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The suit had been ordered by Thatcher but was yet to be delivered and Westwood’s appearance incensed the iron lady of British politics. The cover which was titled ‘This woman was once a punk’ and ‘April Fool’, was included in the Guardian’s list of best ever UK magazine covers.
As with many designers Westwood hasn't stuck within field of fashion; launching a stationary range in December 2010 (made from recycled paper & bound in silk classic Westwood prints) and a fine jewellery line in 2011.
In 2011 Westwood also launched her 'Get A Life' website, with its underlying message of respecting the planet.
In January 2013 the Sydney Festival was headlined by 'Semele Walk', an opera written by Georg Friedrich Händel and based upon the Greek mythical story of Semele, mother of Dionysus. The story of Semele’s self-destructive nature was made relevant for today’s climate aware auadience. It made send that Vivienne Westwood; a vocal activist of the cause would design the costumes.
As Vivienne would later recall, her childhood years were far from London's high life. "I lived in a part of the country that had grown up in the Industrial Revolution," she once said. "I didn't know about art galleries…I'd never seen an art book, never been to the theatre."