Dame Viv the Green Goddess
‘You have a more interesting life if you wear impressive clothes’, according to Dame Vivienne Westwood, and she is certainly testament to her own beliefs.
At 75, the grand dame of punk shows no signs of slowing down having opened her first flagship stores in both Paris and New York at the end of last year. Designing with her partner 25 years her junior, Andreas Kronthaler, her Autumn/Winter 2017/18 men’s and women RTW collections, debuted at London Fashion Week this year.
Westwood’s style has always epitomised rebellion and anti-establishment. In 1971 she opened ‘Let it Rock’ at 430 Kings Road with then partner Malcolm Maclaren and Punk was born. She is pictured outside the shop in ’76 wearing a men’s shirt emblazoned with the slogan, ‘Be reasonable: demand the Impossible’. The shop changed it’s name several times over the years, becoming ‘Worlds End’ in 1980, still her favourite shop today.
By the time punk became mainstream, Vivienne had already moved on. The ‘Pirates’ collection in 1979 was her first catwalk show and the blueprint for the New Romantics era. Having no formal fashion training, Westwood developed cutting techniques based on a rectangle, draping on the body asymmetrically whilst incorporating historical shapes and techniques, still her signature look.
In her Anglomania 1993/94 collection she made tartan sexy and fashionable and designed the McAndreas tartan for her new partner. Traditional British fabrics have continued to be a mainstay and in 1987 she designed the Statue of Liberty corset for the Harris tweed collection, the first time underwear had been introduced into outerwear.
In 1990 and 91 Vivienne was voted fashion designer of the year by the British Fashion Council. A year later she was awarded an OBE and in 2006 was ennobled, famously knickerless. When I saw her last she was wearing a coarse gauge body con midi dress showing off a svelte yoga toned figure over a tartan shirt, argyle arm warmers and a necklace of conkers.
On aging she says “Everybody looks like clones and the only people you notice are my age. I don’t notice anybody unless they look great, and every now and again they do, and they are usually 70”.
British Fashion icon Vivienne Westwood, visited Richmond just a few weeks ago to help Bhuti, the Hill’s organic beauty and yoga haven, celebrate its first birthday.
There was plenty of cake (vegan recipe), delicious food and owner
Samantha Trinder was there banging the drum for well-being and holistic fitness.
Dame Viv was on fine form and spoke of her views on the destruction
of the environment, a subject close to the heart of RiverTribers, fearful over the proposed expansion of Heathrow Airport.
Our fashion doyenne has become something an eco-crusader.
Controversial, colourful but above all a style visionary, Dame Viv is using her unassailable position to fight to save our green spaces.
Here, RiverTribe Stylist Vicky England outlines why high priestess of
British fashion is both designer and artist.
©RiverTribe Magazine 2017