Conscious Creators

The Bold and Unconventional Personality of Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood's personality is synonymous with boldness, creativity, and non-conformity. Discover the captivating story of this punk fashion icon and boundary-pushing designer, from her early influences to her lasting impact on fashion and culture.


Alexandra Wolff

Vivienne Westwood personality is a name synonymous with boldness, creativity, and non-conformism. As a fashion designer, activist, and cultural icon, she has spent decades challenging conventions, pushing boundaries, and inspiring a new generation of designers and thinkers. But what is it about Westwood’s personality that makes her so captivating, and how has she left such an indelible mark on the worlds of fashion and beyond?

Early Influences: The Making of a Rebel

Westwood’s personality was shaped by her early experiences and influences. She was born in 1941 in Derbyshire, England, and grew up in a working-class family that struggled to make ends meet. Despite this, Westwood was a curious and creative child who loved to experiment with fashion and design. After attending art school in London in the 1960s, she began working in a local boutique, where she came into contact with the emerging punk scene and its ethos of DIY fashion and rebellion.

The Punk Ethos: An Inspiration for a New Generation

Westwood’s enthusiasm for punk culture and the DIY aesthetic helped make her a key figure in the movement. In the 1970s, she opened her own boutique, which became a hub for the punk community and a showcase for her edgy, provocative designs. Her “pirate” and “sex” collections of ripped T-shirts, leather jackets, and bondage-inspired accessories challenged traditional notions of gender and sexuality and helped define the punk look for a new generation.

Vivienne Westwood personality
Models walk the runway in Vivienne Westwood’s “Pirates” Fall 1981. (Photo by Tim Jenkins/WWD/Penske Media via Getty Images)

Challenging Conventions: The Power of Unconventional Design

Westwood’s willingness to push boundaries and challenge conventions has been a hallmark of her career. From her early punk designs to her more recent collections, she has consistently broken with traditional fashion norms and experimented with unconventional materials, techniques and silhouettes. In her “Anglomania” collection, for example, she blended traditional British fabrics with punk-inspired elements to create a new, uniquely British look. Her designs were both celebrated and criticised for their audacity and unpredictability, but they always reflected her unique perspective and irreverent sense of humour.

Vivienne Westwood personality
Vivienne Westwood (Photo by Rabbani and Solimene Photography/WireImage)

A Lifelong Activist: Fashion as a Platform for Political Expression

Westwood’s bold personality transcends the realm of fashion. Throughout her career, she has been an outspoken advocate for environmental and social causes. She uses her designs and public appearances to raise awareness and spark conversations about issues such as climate change, animal rights and political freedom. Her “Climate Revolution” campaign, launched in 2011, aimed to mobilise the fashion industry and the public to take action against the environmental crisis. In addition, Westwood has spoken out as a critic of consumerism and fast fashion, arguing that sustainable and ethical fashion is not only necessary, but also beautiful.

Vivienne Westwood personality
Vivienne Westwood organised several demonstrations to highlight her concerns about climate change and mass production.

The Power of Collaboration: Building a Legacy through Partnership

Westwood’s influence on fashion and culture has been shaped not only by her own designs and activism, but also by her collaborations with other artists, musicians, and designers. For instance, her partnerships with Malcolm McLaren and the Sex Pistols helped establish her as a cultural force in the punk movement. Her more recent collaborations with brands such as Melissa and ASICS have helped extend her reach and influence to new audiences, while also promoting sustainable and ethical fashion practices.

Vivienne Westwood personality
Punk rock group “Sex Pistols” manager Malcolm McLaren and friend designer Viviane Westwood seen here outside Bow Street Magistrate Court, after being remanded on bail for fighting. (Photo by Daily Mirror / Bill Kennedy/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

Legacy and Influence: Inspiring a New Generation of Creatives

Westwood’s bold and idiosyncratic approach to fashion and activism has inspired a new generation of designers, thinkers and cultural creators. Her legacy is evident in the work of designers such as Alexander McQueen, Gareth Pugh and Rei Kawakubo, all of whom she has cited as inspiration. Alexander McQueen, for example, was one of Westwood’s protégés and worked for her before starting his own eponymous label. Gareth Pugh, whose work often features avant-garde silhouettes and unconventional materials, has cited Westwood as a major influence on his approach to design. Rei Kawakubo, founder of Comme des Garçons, has also acknowledged Westwood’s influence on her work, particularly in terms of challenging traditional gender norms.

Vivienne Westwood personality
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaks during BoF VOICES 2021 at Soho Farmhouse on December 01, 2021 in Oxfordshire, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/Getty Images for BoF VOICES)

Embracing the Power of Boldness and Non-Conformity

Vivienne Westwood’s personality is a testament to the power of boldness, creativity and non-conformity. Her willingness to challenge convention, push boundaries and speak truth to power has made her a trailblazer not only in fashion but also in broader cultural and political fields. With her bold and unconventional personality, Westwood has shown that true creativity often means breaking with conventions and forging your own path.

We can all learn from Westwood’s example of fearlessness and resilience and embrace our own inner boldness. Whether we are designers, activists or simply people striving to live more fully and authentically, we can be inspired by her commitment to using fashion as a platform for political expression and her unwavering commitment to environmental and social causes.

As Westwood herself said:

I like people who refuse to speak until they are ready to speak. I like people who never give up, and I like the passion that makes people crazy.

We should all infuse some of that passion and craziness into our own lives by embracing the power of boldness and non-conformity. In a world that often values conformity and adherence to societal norms, Westwood’s example reminds us that being simply authentic is what we lack and what we desperately need to bring about positive change.

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