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Vivienne Westwood (1941 - )

Vivienne Westwood (2004) - Claire Wilcox [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Harlequin from Vivienne Westwood's "Voyage to Cythera Autumn / Winter 1989-90" collection "Vivienne Westwood"
image sourced here.


Vivienne Westwood is an English fashion designer largely responsible for modern punk & new wave fashions. Linked with the Sex Pistols via Malcolm McLaren & their "Sex" boutique on King's Road, Chelsea in London during the 1970s.

In December 2003, she and the Wedgwood pottery company launched a series of tea sets featuring her designs. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vivienne_Westwood

SEX (boutique)

Vivienne Westwood's shop "SEX", 1974
image sourced here.

Vivienne Westwood began designing in 1971, when she and Malcolm McLaren opened their shop at 430 King's Road, the so called "wrong end" of the otherwise prosperous London street, which eventually came to be called "World's End."

But Westwood and McLaren claimed the location as their own with their chameleon like boutique, which changed names and decor every time the larger-than-life duo had a new idea. In it's first incarnation, in '71, it was called "Let It Rock" selling '50's Rock'n'Roll records and clothing at a time when hippies were still in fashion and Rock'n'Roll was never played on British radio. In 1972, it became "Too Fast To Live, Too Young To Die," offering '50's records, Zoot suits, "Rocker" clothing, zips, chains and the like. In '74 the creative team took the idea to its next level offering "SEX." The name was displayed on the front of the shop in ten foot high fluorescent pink plastic letters. The items for sale inside included leather bondage clothing, pornographic T-shirts, rubberwear and T-shirts with zips, holes and seditionist slogans.

SEX coincided with, and in fact, helped to shape, the emerging lifestyle, music style and fashion style which later became known as Punk, and it was during this time that McLaren decided to form the band The Sex Pistols, who were named after the shop and intended (at least in part), to serve as models for Westwood's latest creations and attract attention to the boutique.

SEX was a boutique run by Malcolm McLaren & Vivienne Westwood at 430 King's Road in London, England.

SEX was one in a series of boutiques created by Malcolm McLaren & Vivienne Westwood from 1971 to 1979. SEX was formerly known as Let It Rock, which sold Rock & Roll nostalgia pieces catering to Rockers & Teddy Boys. After returning to London after managing the New York Dolls in 1974, McLaren decided to change the whole theme of the boutique. SEX would focus on rubber clothing, bondage gear, fetish magazines & the like.

SEX would stay on the scene long enough to begin the fashion crossover into Punk, which McLaren & Westwood were knee deep in. Famously, the Sex Pistols auditioned Johnny Rotten in the shop.

SEX became Seditionaries in 1976, catering specifically to the emerging Punk scene.

SEX was unique, in that it was run by a very pioneering & successful duo, but it was by no means the only boutique of its kind on the King's Road & by the time Punk exploded onto the scene, there were plenty of competitors including; Boy, Granny Takes A Trip & Beaufort Market.

"I wanted a major, major, major change. I thought we can't keep selling these old REMNANTS and things, we've got to do something tougher and harder: it's all too sweet, and the store, for fuck's sake, is too goddam popular. So it's got to close, no question about it. No more brothel creepers, no more drainpipes, no more of this rock 'n' roll clothing and get rid of that fucking jukebox." ~Malcolm McLaren --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SEX_%28boutique%29 [May 2005]

Kings Road
Kings Road is a major east-west street in London's Chelsea. During the hippie and punk eras, it was a major centre for the counterculture, but is now gentrified. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kings_Road [May 2005]

'Destroy' T-shirt - Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood
image sourced here.

'Destroy' T-shirt
This picture shows Vivienne Westwood in 1977 wearing a 'Destroy' muslin T-shirt. It is formed from two squares of fabric with elongated, straitjacket-like sleeves caught back with D-rings, evoking a straitjacket and printed with the word 'destroy' and a swastika. Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren used highly charged slogans and provocative images in a deliberate attempt to provoke the establishment. The muslins quickly became tattered, only adding to their appeal.

see also: fashion



Blur Magazine Interview

This came from and badly done OCR, credited by Fashion Icon as coming from Blur Magazine, written by Avis Cardella.


A fashionable excerpt from BLUR magazine:

I had the pleasure of meeting Vivienne Westwood in Paris, in January of this year when we both attended the same party, where she, and six other "heavy hitter" designers were being honored for the handbag designs they had created for the one hundredth anniversary of the legendary, and "oft imitated but never equaled", Louis Vuitton leather goods company.

For the occasion, Azzedine Alaia created a purse, Isaac Mizrahi created a tote, Sybilla a backpack, Manolo Blahnik a weekend bag, Romeo Gigli a shoulder bag, and Helmut Lang, a rather original DJ's box. --http://www.fashion-icon.com/blur/


Image sourced here.

Travelling to central London from the south coast every morning wearing spikes heels, stockings and rubberwear and with an electric-shock blonde beehive and outrageous mae-up, Jordan became as much of an attraction at the shop as the clothes, particularly since her obvious intelligence and ready wit provided a counterpoint to Westwoodīs schoolmarmiosh persona. --http://www.geocities.com/seditionaries2/jordan2.html

Jordan - (real name Pamela Rooke)
Shop assistant in Sex and seditionaries. Jordan became one of the most outrageous and sussed punkettes instantly recognisable by her beehive/spiked hairdo and geometric Mondrian style makeup.

Originating from a small coastal village she would travel on commuter filled trains from her South east Coast base to London in some of Vivienne Westwood's most shocking creations. She became a willing human guinea pig for Vivienne's latest punk fashion designs and would wear everything and anything on the changing face of the Kings Road punk scene. Gained early fame at an embryonic Pistols gig by being stripped by Johnny Rotten on stage.

Later became manager of Adam & the Ants in 1977 during their hardcore punk era and starred in Derek Jarman's 1978 film 'Jubilee' singing Rule Britania. She worked on and off through the incarnations of Malcolm's and Viv's shop from 'Sex' to 'Seditionaries' till 1980 when it became 'World's End.'She got involved again with Adam & The Ants and helped shape their successful pirate look before leaving at the height of their fame with band member Kevin Mooney. They married and formed a band called Wide Boy Awake in 1984.

She faded out of focus in the early 80's claiming punk wasn't a challenge anymore and returned to her roots on the south coast. Now works as a veterinary nurse and breeds Burmese cats. --http://www.geocities.com/seditionaries2/index.html [Oct 2005]

See also: Vivienne Westwood - punk - Derek Jarman

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