Editorial Feature

9 Standout Designs by Vivienne Westwood

From punk-era to tartan

Vivienne Westwood, the Queen of Punk, is one of fashion's most provocative designers. Her cutting-edge style has produced some of the catwalk's – and the street's – most unforgettable looks. Here are 9 of her designs that shook up things up on the sartorial scene.

1.

From 1974 to 1980, Vivienne Westwood ran a boutique with her partner and manager of the New York Dolls and the Sex Pistols, Malcolm McLaren. Their shop, called SEX until 1974 before it became known as Seditionaries, was highly influential in London's punk scene. This genderless Bondage Suit was one of their designs. Its zippers and straps mimic a straitjacket and is worn over the controversial "God Save the Queen" Sex Pistols t-shirt – the ultimate in protest fashion.

Man's Punk Ensemble Front View, by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood (From the collection of FIDM MUSEUM & GALLERIES)

2.

This evocative t-shirt from 1977 is printed with a motif of exposed breasts, and were well known after becoming a favorite of the Sex Pistol's drummer, Paul Cook. The pro-women design challenged ideas of displaying the female form, and addressed the paradoxical idea of being naked but wearing clothes. They were often worn by men, exhibiting themes of gender identity and fluidity.

Shirt, Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren for Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, c. 1977 (From the collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute)

3.

Westwood's 1983-82 collection, her last with McLaren, was inspired by Haitian voodoo and a meeting with artist Keith Haring. His bright, graffiti-inspired designs resembled hieroglyphs, which inspired the collection's magical name, Witches. The garments featuring Haring's art were designed with a hip-hop style, as McLaren was greatly interested in early-1980s American hip-hop culture.

Keith Haring ‘Witches’ dress, AW83/84 by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren (From the collection of British Fashion Council)

4.

Dubbed the "mini-crini", this hooped mini skirt form 1985 evokes the style of 19th century crinolines. The look was inspired by Petrushka, a ballet burlesque, and a wish to counteract the big masculine shoulders of 1980s fashion. It made models sexy and curvaceous, as attention was drawn to their hips.

Top, Skirt, by Vivienne Westwood, Spring/Summer 1986 (From the collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute)

5.

Westwood is reknowned for her ability to rework and update styles from history by mixing conventional fabrics with innovative and contemporary cuts. This "Statue of Liberty" ensemble from her 1988 Time Machine collection was inspired by Westwood's studies of 18th century fashion, and recontextualized the corset from underwear to erotically-charged outerwear.

Dress Detail of front dress, by Vivienne Westwood for Vivienne Westwood (From the collection of The Museum at FIT)

6.

This is another example of how Westwood has reinvented the corset to play with the proportions of the body. From the oil-painting-inspired Portrait collection in 1990, this design includes a depiction of François Boucher's painting of Daphnis and Chloe printed on the front panel. Westwood was the first 20th century designer to use the corset in its original form, and in her later shows has also used it for menswear.

Corset, by Vivienne Westwood, 1990 (From the collection of The Victoria and Albert Museum)

7.

These bright blue punched leather "mock-croc" platform shoes might be recognizable as the footwear that had Naomi Campbell toppling over on the catwalk in 1993. Campbell was brave to tackle them, as the platform soles measure 30.5cm in height!

Pair of platform shoes, by Vivienne Westwood for Vivienne Westwood, 1993 (From the collection of The Victoria and Albert Museum)
Naomi Campbell wears Vivienne Westwood Tartan, by Vivienne Westwood for Vivienne Westwood, 1993 (From the collection of British Fashion Council)

8.

In 1993 tartan exploded into Westwood's designs in her Anglomania collection, and her name is still synonymous with the style today. Her vibrant plaid designs re-invent how the traditional fabric is used, including her incorporation of her custom-made McAndreas tartan, named after her husband and co-designer, Andreas Kronthaler.

9.

This wedding dress was the conclusion to her show of the 2008 collection Chaos Point. It was made for the fashion show itself to illustrate the representative silhouette and bring together the theme of the collection, the ecological crisis. The print was designed by school children, when Westwood visited their class and asked them to draw what a freedom warrior and environmentalist should look like.

Wedding dress, by Vivienne Westwood for Vivienne Westwood, ca 2008 (From the collection of Röhsska Museum)
Vivienne Westwood World's End Store (From the collection of British Fashion Council)
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