There's Nothing Like a Dame! Vivienne Westwood's Fashion Design Career

by Fran Walker
Fashion School Review Columnist

January 23, 2006

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Wild, sexy, and never dull, Vivienne Westwood's fashion designs have been an inspiration for fashion careers and schools for over thirty years. From shocking punk icon of the seventies to today's elder stateswoman of fashion, she became a dame in the UK's New Year's Honors List in October 2005. Love her or loathe her, you have to admire the sheer daring and scope of her fashion career.

Vivienne Westwood's 35 Year Fashion Career

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Born in 1941 and with no formal fashion school training, Vivienne Westwood began designing clothes in 1971 after opening her shop, Let it Rock, with punk icon Malcolm McClaren. It was when the shop changed its name to Sex in the mid-seventies that she became synonymous with fetishist fashion.

Constantly celebrating the female form, and sometimes lambasted by feminists, Vivienne's sexy designs have been seen as fashion liberation by many women. She has said many times that fashion is all about sex and it seems to run in the family. Her elder son is a "glamour" photographer; her younger son Joe owns Agent Provocateur, the hugely successful sexy lingerie chain.

So Vivienne Didn't Attend Fashion School?

The short answer is no, but she did serve a long fashion apprenticeship. Born into a family of entrepreneurs, she attended art school but left to train to be a teacher. Liberated by the punk era and Malcolm McClaren, Vivienne had built up the type of experience and portfolio that many fashion school graduates dream of by the time of her first fashion show in 1981.

Her love life and fashion career have seen ups and downs, but at the age of sixty four she is now happily married and in charge of today's fashion empire that any fashion school graduate would die for. There really is no one else like Dame Vivienne Westwood.


About the Author
Fran Walker is a freelance writer, editor and researcher specializing in educational, health, safety and domestic issues. Previously, she spent five years in marketing in the self-help, health and health and safety sectors before leaving to start a family

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