She appeared on the London fashion scene in the 70s with her outrageously bright hair and devilishly charming attire, taking the industry by storm. Against the backdrop of 70s brutalist council housing and the rock atmosphere of what London once was, Vivienne Westwood and her then partner Malcom McLaren opened their first boutique store that would today evolve into a legacy of rock and roll retailing and the reinvention of what it means to just be punk.
75 years young and Westwood is still very soft-spoken, wearing her own magnificent designs with a quiet confidence. The icon of her time, Westwood had started her legacy by running a quaint little boutique on Kings Road, which is now known famously as Worlds End. As the origin and birth of what punk fashion has become, it’s a church for our generation. Millennials who live for disengaged social cultures, ripped denim, and the very humble beginnings of anti-fashion all go to pray at the boutique.
Westwood’s first runway show was in 1983, which had landed her worldwide acclaim as an outstanding designer that reflected the drowsy, sleepy, and rebellious lifestyle of London in the 70s. With her fashion-forward thinking and her political mind, she influenced a generation of new contemporaries. From innovative shapes, colours, and cuts to ideologies, she resonated with the audience in a way that no other designer, let alone female designer could, thus launching her eponymous label, Vivienne Westwood, into fame for the next 30 years.
From her pioneering work in the studio to her endless work as an activist in and out of the industry, from diversity to female empowerment, Westwood’s impact on culture and subculture is immeasurable. As of 2016, Vivienne Westwood, the brand, has become as symbolically British as, well, tea. 75 years young and Westwood is still thinking outside of the box, from going green to pushing towards the advocacy of women’s rights. She claims to do things because she wants to. She does things for herself and for her beliefs.
From consistent quality in a now-iconic label to that quiet, devil-may-care smile Westwood is still flashing at cameras, look here for “rebellion,” Millennials. Step aside, and long live Vivienne Westwood, the punk-rock-queen.