Vivienne Westwood

U K Circle

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Dame Vivienne Westwood, DBE, a Green Party of England and Wales member, RDI (born Vivienne Isabel Swire on 8 April 1941) is an English fashion designer and businesswoman, largely responsible for bringing modern punk and new wave fashions into the mainstream. Westwood came to public notice when she made clothes for Malcolm McLaren's boutique in the King's Road, which became famous as "SEX". It was their ability to synthesise clothing and music that shaped the 1970s UK punk scene, dominated by McLaren's band, the Sex Pistols. She was deeply inspired by the shock-value of punk - "seeing if one could put a spoke in the system". Westwood went on to open four shops in London, eventually expanding throughout the United Kingdom and the world, selling an increasingly varied range of merchandise, some of it linked to her many political causes such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, climate change and the civil rights group Liberty. She has been twice married, and has two children. Westwood was born Vivienne Isabel Swire in the village of Tintwistle, Derbyshire on 8 April 1941,the daughter of Gordon Swire and Dora Swire (née Ball), who had married two years previously, two weeks after the outbreak of World War II. At the time of Vivienne's birth, her father was employed as a storekeeper in an aircraft factory; he had previously worked as a greengrocer. She attended Glossop Grammar School. Aged 17 in 1958, Vivienne and her family moved to Harrow, London. She studied at the Harrow School of Art, University of Westminster, taking fashion and silversmithing, but she left after one term saying, "I didn't know how a working-class girl like me could possibly make a living in the art world". After taking up a job in a factory and studying at a teacher-training college, she became a primary school teacher. During this period, she also created her own jewellery, which she would sell at a stall on Portobello Road. In 1962, Vivienne Swire met Derek Westwood, a Hoover factory apprentice, in Harrow. They married on 21 July 1962 and Vivienne made her own wedding dress for the ceremony. In 1963, she gave birth to a son, Benjamin Westwood