ICONS: Vivienne Westwood “From Let it rock to Sex” (part I)

ICONS: Vivienne Westwood “From Let it rock to Sex” (part I)

ICONS: Vivienne Westwood “From Let it rock to Sex” (part I)

Discover the individuals that, like Vivienne Westwood, have shaped the Firm’s creative director and designer’s aesthetics, philosophy and work in the series ICONS.


The story of Vivienne Westwood (and the history of punk) began with a little girl deeply marked by the representations of a crucified and tortured Jesus. She understood them, not without success, as the evil with which the human being treats his peers and the unjust and cruel society that we have built. This fact would mark Westwood forever, and it is probably the origin of his activist and political life.

Coming from a working family, Vivienne got married and had her first child at the age of 22. But soon felt trapped in the much publicized “American dream” of the happy family, the housewife life and the house on the outskirts.

Creative and restless (she learned to sew by herself and by 11 she made a lot of her own clothes), her self-imposed jail soon did not satisfy her and left her husband. Living ‘the swinging 60s‘ – term coined by Diana Vreeland that represented the explosion in the arts and design that made London the cultural capital of the moment – contributed to her desire to experiment and learn.

After the long economic recovery post Second World War and a grey and austere period, a new generation of young creatives revolutionized everything, from fashion, music and cinema, to lifestyle, leisure or sex. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Twiggy, Verushka, Mary Quant or Richard Hamilton among others dynamited the world’s cultural scene in a few years.

However, it was not this hedonism and optimism that inspired Vivienne and Malcolm McLaren, the teddy boy she met in 1965, and who became his partner and father of his second son. More interested in the 50s rock’n roll than in the music that was being produced at that time, they both opened a store. In the 430 Kings Road in Chelsea they sold second hand vinyls and 50s memorabilia.

In the back of the store Vivienne found a place to sew and with time she started selling her designs. Given the success, they soon opened the entire store renaming it into ‘Let it Rock’ – a name that would evolve with them and that would change up to 4 times more until reaching the final one that has been maintained since 1980.

In ‘Too fast to live, too young to die’ there would be a lot of attitude and a lot of what was to come. The desire to provoke would lead them to problems with justice for obscenity and indecency. Vivienne and McLaren counterattacked renaming the store ‘Sex‘, with a huge poster with pink plastic inflatable letters, and a collection inspired by BDSM and bondage. “Rubberwear for the office” featured latex garments, zippers, straps, thongs, garters, fishnet stockings and exposed breasts. Punk was born.

[ Continue reading about Vivienne Westwood’s participation in the punk movement and about her consolidation as an international icon in the 90s and until today. ]

Images: worldsendshop.co.uk | anothermag.com | id-vice.com | vogue.co.uk .es