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Why this iconic designer has stood out to society within the last several decades.


For the last several decades, the iconic fashion designer Vivienne Westwood has taken fashion to a new level by creating a trademark style of clothing showcasing lines ranging from 16th-century renaissance and early 90s punk. Westwood has combined a sense of elegance with a clash of rebellion, creating looks that cross the boundaries of fashion expression. Clothes that are sexy with a little edge, push the boundaries of what might be considered proper society fashion.

Following a resurgence in Westwood’s fashions thanks to current influencers such as Bella Hamid, Zendaya, Dua Lipa, and Kylie Jenner, Westwood is most known for her controversial and alluring style that rose to the top of the fashion industry in the 1970s. During this period, punk culture created panic and a cultural shift within society. With its vulgar lyrics and provocative style, punk was a stray away from not only the typical music style of the day but also within the fashion industry.

Punk was seen as a way for people to express their personal identities and not conform to society's standards of religious or cultural backgrounds. Westwood alongside designer and partner Malcolm McLaren created a punk aesthetic for a rock band, the Sex Pistols, that would change anything the fashion industry has previously seen.

Westwood integrated traditionally different styles of clothing together such as graphic tees, lots of leather, plaid skirts, safety pin jewelry, skull and crossbones patterns, chain necklaces, and lots of layered clothes. Her take on fashion was seen as very vulgar and shocking to society as the free-flowing hippie movement had heavily influenced the previous decade.

Punk rock clothing allowed a sense of expressionism as Motown, Surf Rock, Folk Rock, and the British Music Invasion heavily influenced the 1960s music scene as rock started to evolve from early Rock & Roll. Punk rock was seen as a way in which people could express their uniqueness, emotions, and loudness. Those who enjoy punk rock were often overlooked when it comes to society's standards. Westwood and McLaren created a brand that allowed those who enjoyed punk to feel a sense of understanding and their own place within society.

Westwood’s departure from Malcolm McLaren from their brand in the early 1980s transitioned Westwood to a new fashion era that was heavily influenced by the renaissance. Westwood’s clothing style revolved around an embrace of expressing a woman's sexuality as Westwood continued to revolt against society’s rules.

Westwood’s looks were inspired by 18th-century paintings in which her style was represented by corsets, pearl accessories, floral patterns, big hats, fur coats, and sleek gloves. Westwood introduced a controversial aspect as she designed undergarments to be worn as outerwear.

This period also marked her departure from the punk rock scene. Embracing the growing expression of women’s sexuality, Vivienne Westwood continued to push back against conformist society. This was seen in her Spring/Summer 1985 collection that featured the “mini-crini”, a modern take on the crinoline undergarment mixed with the mini-skirt craze of the 1980s. She reimagined the restrictive corset into an object of liberation. The iconic corset has seen a resurgence of love in the historic and archival fashion trends.

The Renaissance era for Westwood served as a way for her to see herself more as a designer as she was able to break away from McLaren and express more femininity within her style and not just fashion McLaren’s style. This era served as a time that allowed women to openly express their sexuality and freedom through the clothing that they wore.

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