Vivienne Westwood is the quintessential British fashion designer. As a radical innovator, Westwood has continually challlenged established codes of dress.
Born in 1941 in Derbyshire, England, Vivienne Westwood invented the punk movement with her then partner and manager of the SexPistols Malcolm McLaren and changed the face of British fashion.
From her and McLaren’s shop, World’s end, in London Chelsea, Westwood shaped her her original ideas, and she continues to drive British fashion to this day. As the benchmark for innovative fashion design, Westwood’s iconic style and fashion ideas have placed her at the forefront of contemporary fashion.
– How would you describe your clothes?
– The majority of people on the streets look quite dreadful, as they would prefer to say nothing through thier clother than make a mistake. They are lazy in thier dress and take no time to express themselves. My clothes, on the other hand, allow someone to be truly individual.
– Do you have a design philosophy?
– My clothes are quite theatralical in the sence that they are real clothes, well designed, but they give you a chance to express yourself. They are also inviting – people respond to them and want to come and talk to you.
– What do your clothes offer the wearer?
– What I think my clothes give people is is the power to make them feel sexy – after all they are very feminine. But what is more important they talks about body in a way that makes you stand out. There is a form to it all, a relation between you and what you are wearing that is terribly interesting; you are doing something that you have never seen done before, and nobody else is wearing enything quite like it. What I think they can do for you is to make you look and feel important. They give you clout.
– How are you modern withing fashion?
– The last thing I’m interested in is keeping up with the times.
– How would you describe your design process?
– There are all kinds of things you norice and realize that you can translate into something new. Usually, you don’t see the sourse of my translation. It has been transformed into something into something else by the time I present it.
-What informs your ideas?
– A large influence on the collection is the fabric that i used. I use mainly natural fabrics – English barathea, Scottish tartan, Harris and Donegal tweed, English mohair and Swiss silk. I am also influenced by my interest in new pattern cutting technics.
– Do you think there is a distinct British style?
– I think in the case of English men, they are more adventurous than women. I used to work in my shop, World’s End, and if a man and a woman came in together and they were shopping for hom, well, he’d choose something and she persuade him to put it back. On the other hand, he’d be pushing her in some direction she hadn’t been before. In general, men are more adventurous in England.
– Do you approach menswear differently to womenswear?
– For me, there is not any difference between designing for a woman and designingfor a man in that I want to make them both look great. And so I have to find a way to do it. If I am developing a cutting technique, I will explore it in both the men’s and women’s clothes and, similarly, if I find an amazing yarn or fabric I will develop them in both the men’s and women’s line.
– Is your logo British or global?
– The Vivienne Westwood signature orb symbolizes the world, yet it is quitessentially British, part of the historical royal regalia held by the Quienne during the ceremonial opening of Parliament. The logo stends for ‘taking tradition into the future’, where the orb represents tradition and the past and the future is sympolized by Saturn’s orbital Ring.
– Are you complitely satisfied or are you a perfectionist?
– I am never complitely satisfied.
By Hywel Davice. Firstly published in a book British Fashion Designers.