The Grande Dame of British fashion, Vivienne Westwood may have celebrated her 70th birthday last month, but she still reigning in the realm of British fashion; heading up a multi-million pound empire renowned the world over for her tongue-in-cheek approach, subversive, avant-garde and thoroughly referenced collections. PDD understand, appreciate and support the implications and influences of fashion to the bigger picture (socially, culturally, into product etc.), and want to highlight the ever-changing role and development of Britain's most British designer.
1.Vivienne Westwood, 2. Vivienne Westwood with punk ingénue Jordan & Chrissie Hynde in 1976 ©Vivienne Westwood
The Sub-Culture: Her career has spanned from being a primary school teacher onto becoming a fashion designer and environmental/cultural activist. Westwood, along with former partner Malcolm McLaren were chiefly responsible for the most influential sub-cultures the UK has seen. Her designs initially attracted attention for their risqué, barrier pushing S&M visuals, shocking the nation and in turn, recruiting an anarchic following.
After a period as a strong cultural influencer, Westwood's design aesthetic blossomed, with history being her main source of inspiration. Westwood is a fervent academic, to this day shunning popular culture and television in favour of books and cultural pursuits.
Westwood's portfolio of lavish frocks, and hyper tailored suits and coats carry their own visual language, impressively being instantly recognisable. Although her men's and women's wear designs are much coveted, her brand is tightly controlled, only allowing brand messaging to be relayed by a particular type of eccentric, fashion conscious woman.
Supporter of British Industry:
Westwood's life-long obsession with print design (her squiggle print is synonymous with the brand) has found outlets beyond textile print, branching out into the interiors, chiefly her collection of ceramics with traditional porcelain designers Coalport in the earlier phase of the 00's. In-keeping with Coalports utterly British and traditional take on design, Westwood used an amalgamation of original prints and punk-esque pins to add a rebellious, but considered streak to a traditional design.
6. & 7. Vivienne Westwood in collaboration with Cole & Sons
Last year saw Westwood's further foray into the interior influence, with her popular collection of wallpaper designs for another traditionally British brand, Cole & Sons. Wallpaper design by fashion designers seems to be a more muted, and more cautious way to claim affinity to a brand. Interestingly, brands usually build on expansion through quick wins such as perfume (which Westwood does too), but to see brands incorporating their aesthetics into home wares denotes a true passion for design from Westwood's creative department.