Vivienne Westwood: the story of sustainable anarchy

With her irreverent personality and exceptional charisma, Vivienne Westwood is one of the most successful designers of the last twenty years, creator of the punk movement and a forerunner of current trends like few others. The British designer has conquered the world of fashion with a transgressive, but always aware language. Through the canons of a non-conformist beauty, Westwood’s imagination is a perennial cry of protest: the whole world must become aware and rebel against the system! In doubt, better to exaggerate. This is the philosophy of irreverent creativity that has always been a symbol of a revolutionary determination signed by Vivienne Westwood.

Since its debut, Vivienne Westwood’s fashion was nothing but a mirror of her soul, the living expression of her ideals, manifested through the madness of a style destined to imprison the subject the succession of historical epochs and their important social changes. Vivienne Westwood speaks provokingly to the world, with the language of a completely new fashion and free from any form of obligation. The genius burns in her and translates into a transgression of shapes and colors, expressed through the originality of a rebellious beauty.

The only reason I make fashion is to tear the word conformism to pieces.” — Vivienne Westwood.

Flanked by the creative spirit of Malcolm Edwards McLaren, her second companion of life and work, the young designer begins her journey by lighting the fire of a rebellion in London fashion in the 70s: it results in a perfect combination of rock’n’roll and a college style/teddy boy. The punk vision is born, with punctured t-shirts and aggressive studs: Vivienne wants to denounce and change and she does it with transgressive writings, exaggerated tricks and messy catwalks.

In this period the anarchy sign (the circled “A”) and the Sex Pistols, an iconic punk group, are born and quickly burned, both children of valid intuitions of Malcom and the young British designer. The stylistic imprint and relative weight in years to come is incredible: in the following decade, everyone tried to imitate Vivienne’s irreverent trait. The very look of David Bowie, platinum blonde glam rock hair and glittery makeup, is inspired by the typical look of Vivienne Westwood in her public appearances — and in her private life. Iconic is the debut on the runway of Naomi Campbell, who falls, unable to walk in the exaggerated shoes chosen for her outfit.

Naomi Campbell in Vivienne Westwood’s Fashion Show in Paris, 1993.

Fight for the climate revolution!

Growing in her career, Vivienne Westwood realizes that the kind of rebellion she was promoting had become a part of the system: as an outsider she has, for some years, evolved her commitment to the punk movement, now playing the role of a paladin destined to defend the planet and its inhabitants, conquering young people with awareness campaigns and environmental protection. The enemy are the governments, with the damage caused by global warming: her collections tell this story, a story of awareness, which also passes through struggle. And if the fight requires courage, Vivienne has shown that she has enough to sell.

Her unconventional thinking is a real means of denunciation: fashion has a strong communicative power, which conveys clear and strong messages, dialoguing with the younger generations. It does so through sustainable collections with a reduced environmental impact, in which natural materials are used and processed in a way to pollute as little as possible, while in the boutiques the politics of buying less, choosing well and make it last hover, because “ what is good for the planet is good for the economy. What is bad for the planet is bad for the economy”.

Mother of two children, grandmother, doubly victorious at the British Fashion Council Awards and married to the eclectic Andreas Kronthaler, one of his former students: the strength of this English woman is a river in flood, a voice out of the chorus able to always stand out, even years after her first successes. In a world where clothes are often a veil under which designers hide, Vivienne continues to talk through her creations — and she does it without holding back.

‘Politicians are criminals’ read the outfits from the FW16 collection: a clear, violent message that avoids wording games. Similarly, her exhortations to colleagues and competitors are harsh and direct: we need to take an interest in the planet, reduce waste in production processes and enhance short value chains, where the distance from suppliers is often a source of significant pollution. Punk lives! Same bad attitude, but with a more mature and determined message — and, hopefully, with more positive results on the world.

Originally published at on April 20, 2019.