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Vivienne Westwood's most iconic collections

From the "Pirates" of the first fashion show to the ladies in tartan of "Anglomania"

Vivienne Westwood's most iconic collections From the Pirates of the first fashion show to the ladies in tartan of Anglomania

Vivienne Westwood is one of the most iconic designers in fashion history. Nonconformist, eccentric, brilliant, talented, she has always followed her own instinct. Ever since she abandoned the bourgeois life to which she seemed predestined, an existence spent between the school desks where she was a teacher and the boring family dinners, to run towards creativity and freedom. And so she revolutionized not only her future, but also the meaning of the word style.

It was 1971 when, opening Let it Rock, a boutique at 430 Kings Road together with her partner and Sex Pistols' manager Malcolm McLaren, she punched the fashion elite in the face with her punk creations: T-shirts with the Queen's face printed full of safety pins; latex pants, bondage details and the super classic English tartan. Season after season, the store changed its name (Too Fast To Live Too Young to Die, then SEX, Seditionaires and, finally, Worlds End,...) following the evolution of Vivienne's creative flair and her collections, from the neo-romantic Pirates in high boots, Napoleon hats and shirts full of ruffles to the street-style Witches wearing knitted garments decorated by Keith Haring

Once the partnership with McLaren ended, Westwood found the perfect mix between English and French tradition, history, art and rebellion. With the '90s came the partnership with Andreas Kronthaler and the most famous fashion shows, such as the one during which Naomi Campbell stumbled in her high heels and fell, or the one in which Kate Moss, bare-breasted and with her face covered in white makeup, ate ice cream. At that point, everyone wanted her mini-crunchy dresses and corsets, but fame has not managed to affect the spirit of the designer who dared to visit Buckingham Palace without underwear. Because even though she has become a Dame, Viv is still the same unconventional girl she has always been. In life and on the catwalk, in fact, there is always a battle to fight: from the one for inclusion pursued for example in the 2015 Unisex: Time to Act! collection or the one for the climate on which the creative has focused in recent years.

In celebration of her 80th birthday, we look back at Vivienne Westwood's most iconic collections.


Vivienne Westwood FW 1981 - "Pirate"

The first proper collection created by Vivienne Westwood to hit the runway during London Fashion Week in 1981 was Pirate. The designer moved away from the punk creations she had experimented with in her store at 430 Kings Road to find inspiration in art and history. The result was a series of romantic, unisex and colorful clothes for FW evoking an imagery of bandits, dandies and buccaneers that became the uniform of many pop stars part of the underground New Romantics movement, from Boy George to Adam and the Ants. The cult item of the collection? Pirate Boots, the true epitome of laid-back cool.


Vivienne Westwood FW 1983-84 - "Witches"

Vivienne Westwood met Keith Haring and, together, the two gave life to one of the most interesting collaborations between fashion and streetstyle. These two non-conformist artists brought to the runway a series of colorful and cool pieces that blend sporty details, Asian inspirations and Haring's famous stylized little figures. When Madonna, a friend of the talented New Yorker, saw the collection, she immediately fell in love with it and wore it on several occasions, helping to make it even more popular. Witches is also important because it marks the end of the partnership between Westwood and Malcolm McLaren.


Vivienne Westwood FW 1990-91 - Portrait


Westwood's love of art and corsets is all showed in the Portrait collection. The inspiration comes directly from the Wallace collection of 18th-century French paintings and decorative arts, specifically François Boucher's Daphnis and Chloe and the rococo designs of 18th-century furniture printed in gold ink that found new life on corsets and black stretch velvet garments. Years later, those corsets will become a must-have in the wardrobe of it-girls like Bella Hadid and FKA Twigs.


Vivienne Westwood FW 1993-94 - "Anglomania"

From 1993 to 1999, Westwood began to shape a new aesthetic born out of a dialogue between the styles of France and England, combining elegant British tailoring with the French love of exaggerated proportions. The best example of this is Anglomania. The FW 1993-94 collection, created together with Andreas Kronthaler, mixes tartan, furs, kilts, puffy silhouettes that could be perfect for Versailles and very high heels, like the ones Naomi Campbell wore on the catwalk before she fell.


Vivienne Westwood SS 1994 - "Café Society"

For the show Vivienne opted for a decadent and theatrical atmosphere. In a set staged with chaise longues and carpets, models with powdered faces and pink-colored lips moved languidly, licking ice cream and winking at each other. The high rate of eroticism annoyed the press and distracted attention from the micro crochet bikinis, sumptuous and voluminous evening dresses and shirts with bows.  Kate Moss with bare breasts, a very short miniskirt and a Magnum in her hand was iconic.


Vivienne Westwood FW 1994-95 - "On Liberty"


Westwood continues her exploration of historicism and sexuality, adding lots of tartan, inspiration from equestrian clothing and British humor. On Liberty is considered a sort of embryonic version of Comme des Garçons' "Lumps and bumps" collection.


Vivienne Westwood FW 2002-03 - "Anglophilia"

Westwood returns to the historical imagery she loves most and reworks it for the new millennium. The designer reinterprets, among the many items presented in Anglophilia, the crumpled silk dress of Madame de Pompadour in a painting by François Boucher, one of her favorite artists. Asymmetrical cuts, a taste for the eccentric, art and history come alive here as in every other collection by Dame Viv.


Vivienne Westwood FW 2003-04 - "Le Flou Taille"

A reflection on the need "to reintroduce the quality of the couture cut in the prêt- à -porter". For Vivienne, the ultimate sign of quality and craftsmanship is to combine fluidity and tailoring into a single outfit.


Vivienne Westwood FW 2005-06 - "Propaganda"

Vivienne Westwood has always used fashion to challenge the status quo. In the 2000s, much of her activism was about Climate Change and Propaganda, is one of the collections that the British designer considers among the most political. In fact, along with the always-present historical influences, deconstructed corsets and skirts, military-inspired coats, layering and slogans make the items special.


Vivienne Westwood FW 2015-16 - "Unisex: Time to Act"

The declared sources of inspiration for the collection are "shepherds and Sumerians", but, really, the result is a kind of reflection on unisex fashion and inclusion. On the runway, we see alternating tailored suits, androgynous looks, hula skirts, bangs, hooded capes and floral long dresses.