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Vivienne Westwood 1941- Fashion Designer

Vivienne Westwood was born Vivienne Swire in the Peak District village of Tintwistle, Glossop, Derbyshire in 1941. Still a teenager, the family moved to Harrow, a suburb of northwest London, where her parents took over the running of a post office. At 21, she married Derek Westwood, a toolmaker, but the marriage did not last. After the break-up, Vivienne fled to her Aunt Ethel's caravan in North Wales, with her son Ben.

Her career in fashion did not take off until she met Malcolm McLaren, later known as the manager of punk band the Sex Pistols, who was studying alongside her brother at Harrow Technical College. Friendship came first, followed by love, and, in 1974, a second child, Joe, now the purveyor of saucy scanties, was born.

It was London which gave Vivienne the boost her creativity needed. After a stint selling her own jewellery in Portobello Market, she and Malcolm opened the infamous Sex boutique at the bottom end of the Kings Road where her provocative designs were sold. Then came punk. Vivienne's clothes were perfect for the youth trend: bondage trousers, slashed shirts and provocative God Save The Queen T-shirts. The monarch may not have loved it, but London was intoxicated.

After a couple more shops, Westwood moves to Italy in 1984 where a deal with Giorgio Armani announced. 1989 November: Westwood's name appears in a list of the world's top six designers in John Fairchild's book Chic Savages (1989), along with Armani, Lagerfield, Saint Laurent, Lacroix and Ungaro.

Between 1989-1991 she is appointed Professor of Fashion at Vienna Academy of Applied Arts and in 1990 the first complete menswear collection, Cut and Slash (S/S 1991) was shown in conjuntion with Pitti Uomo in Florence.

In 1992, she married Andreas Kronthaler, a fashion student a quarter of a century younger than her, whom she met when she was tutoring fashion at Vienna University of Applied Arts.

During the 1990's she opens shops in London, Milan, Hong Kong and Liverpool. In 1999 The Red Label is launched in the United States in February, coinciding with the opening of Westwood's first shop in New York. In 2003 she is awarded the UK fashion Export Award for Design.

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Vivienne Westwood


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