Influential and eccentric British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood is well known for her influence on punk fashion and dressing the Sex Pistols, as well as causing a stir with her political opinions and outspoken attitude.
It’s no surprise that Dame Vivienne Westwood’s 72 years on earth have included some interesting moments. We’ve compiled 10 little-known facts about the queen of punk that may surprise you:
1. Vivienne studied fashion and silversmithing at the Harrow School of Art in London at the age of 17, but left after one term saying that a working-class girl could never make a living in the art world. She went on to work in a factory and then as a teacher before eventually opening her own fashion boutique.
2. She was awarded an OBE in 1992 for her services to British fashion and attended the ceremony and collected her award from the Queen without wearing any knickers. This stunt was repeated in 2006 when she was awarded the title of “Dame” by the Prince of Wales.
3. In 2007, Westwood was awarded the gong for Outstanding Achievement in Fashion Design at the British Fashion Awards. Popping out for a “loo break” caused her to be late to collect her award.
4. Westwood’s controversial and artistic style seems to have rubbed off onto her two sons have also gone on to have successful careers in art and fashion – her first son Benjamin Westwood is an erotic photographer and her second son, Joe Corre, is the founder of lingerie brand, Agent Provocateur
5. Vivienne Westwood is well-known for creating the wedding dress for the character Carrie Bradshaw in the Sex and the City movie that spawned a thousand replicas. The dress in the movie was available to buy as a knee-length version on net-a-porter.com and sold out within hours. This was not her first foray into bridal wear, however: The very first wedding dress she designed was for her first marriage to Derek Westwood in 1962, well before the creation of her own fashion label.
6. Westwood partnered with Ethical Fashion Africa in 2011. She used local woman to produce bags from recycled materials, paying them a fair wage for their skills and time. However her efforts were criticised by some for profiting from poverty.
7. Her design skills are not limited to fashion. Dame Westwood also produced a line of stationery and interior textiles in her iconic prints in 2010.
8. Vivienne Westwood has long been known for her political activism and using her brand to draw attention to causes such as climate change, nuclear weapons and human rights. She writes a blog about these issues as well as fashion news at climaterevolution.co.uk.
9. Westwood does not watch television or read newspapers or magazines. She is uninterested in pop culture and celebrities and admitted to not knowing who Emma Watson was when she presented her with the award of Elle Style Icon in 2001.
10. Vivienne lived in a council flat in Clapham for 30 years until 2000, when her husband (and former student), Andreas Kronthaler convinced her to move into her current home, which once belonged to the mother of Captain Cook.