After three decades in fashion, Vivienne Westwood remains the toast of catwalks around the world. Widely recognized for her trademark punk style, corsets and very high heels, she remains closely involved in all aspects of her label and business. This week, Talk Asia tours her retrospective in Hong Kong which showcases a colourful chronological walk through her world of design. Dame Westwood discusses the key exhibition pieces and then sits down with host Anjali Rao to chat about pioneering punk, The Sex Pistols and her career path from an English teacher to British style icon.
It all began in the 1970s when Westwood revolutionised fashion with a new style – Punk. “We were interested in rubber-wear – all kinds of things we thought would confront the establishment. Why doesn’t the Queen be a punk? She ought to be. Let’s give her a safety pin.”
But today, three decades later, the punk pioneer is not buying the concept she introduced, “I invented this anarchist sign. I wouldn’t care about that today.” The Sex Pistols were the most famous exponents of punk style in popular culture. She discusses her experience dressing the notorious band, “the worst of them all was Malcolm (McLaren). Malcolm is still bad, he’s still the only punk left.”
From street culture, Westwood moved to more traditional tailored collections and into the world of ‘haute couture’. Over the years, she continued to make her mark on fashion for women and then men, moving into fragrance and accessories. The designer attributes her success to the fact that “I’ve always done what I wanted. I’ve always been the judge of what I am.”
The 67-year-old designer also discusses her relationship with husband Andreas Kronthaler, who is 25 years junior and her sons – Joseph who heads up the lingerie brand Agent Provocateur, and Ben who is an erotic photographer.