Monday, 7 May 2012

Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne was born in Glossop, Derbyshire on the 8th April 1941 under the full name of Vivienne Isabel Swire. Vivienne got the last name ‘Westwood’ from marrying now her ex-husband, Benjamin Arthur Westwood. They got married in 1962 but divorced three years later in 1965.
In 1961 Westwood originally trained in Willesdon, London, as a primary school teacher. Six years after the divorce, 1971, Westwood switched from being a teacher and went on to designing with her young partner Malcolm Edwards now known as Malcolm McLaren.
Westwood started her own brand in 1983 where she became known as the ‘Queen of Rock’. This led to Westwood and McLaren opening up their first store in Chelsea. They named the store ‘Let It Rock.’ In 1972, the shop’s name changed to ‘Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die’ and Westwood’s collection was urban culture and rock. The shops impression became leather zips, slogans and chains on t-shirts as well as pornographic images as a result.
Westwood’s first design was a pair of gold drainpipe trousers that had been put up for sale in their shop.
By 1981 Westwood was prepared for hers and McLarens first catwalk show in Olympia. This was ‘The Pirate Collection’. But sadly, in 1983 Westwood’s collaboration ended with McLaren and she began her ‘Witches Collection’. After what seemed a rebellious stage in 1987 Westwood went for a more childish approach with the ‘Queen Elizabeth Teen’ look.
Then in 1989, Westwood received a key achievement of having her name in a list of the top six designers. Other names included in the 1989 list were; Armani, Lagerfield, Saint Laurent, Lacroix and Ungaro. Two years later (1991) Westwood received an award for the ‘Fashion Designer of the Year’ given by the British Fashion Council.
Westwood also had a range of other products to sell such as her perfume Boudoir, which launched in 1998 along with many accessories that became available a year later. Westwood uses websites to show her work in many ways such as on the catwalk. You can also see her designs in books and magazines.
When asked who her customers were on London Fashion Week website, she quoted; “My customers are the best ambassadors for my clothes. When people discover them, they seem to have an edge. Although I’m very proud of my customers, I also love to dress the supermodels. Glamour has a sense of archetype and I adore those archetypal beauties. Fashion is alive when it is being worn and talked about.”
I feel that Westwood’s designs and work are to astonish and shock people as she goes for outrageous designs. When Westwood goes for a style change, you can see there’s a sudden transformation because they alternate from pop, punk rock to a French look and other styles. You can also see she contrasts her work a lot as well with colours and patterns etc. She gets her insights from classical music, culture, books and paintings as well as having of merchandise in many shops in countries such as the UK and Milan meaning some of her designs are cultural.


The pace of life accelerated sharply. Technology was developing at whirlwind speed, and we depended on it more and more for communication, business, and entertainment. The Internet, mobile phones, personal organizers, other gadgets—still something of a novelty in the eighties—became essential parts of everyday life.
The 1990s have been called the decade of anti-fashion, the decade when street fashion finally won out over haute couture, and the decade that saw the death of the designer in a way. Nostalgia and retro were high on the agenda: often, it seemed that a trend had hardly passed before it was being revived, given an ironic makeover, and put back on the runway. 
The nineties opened with economic recession and high unemployment figures. For many, the previous decade’s freewheeling spending came to a halt.  Working from home became common. Ordinary retail clothing sales, textile manufacturing industries and stores all declined from a less active more casual marketplace.
Remnants of the eighties were still around for the first years of the 90s and particularly in provincial areas. Short above knee straight skirts and stirrup ski pants masquerading as a refined version of leggings were worn with long chenille yarn sweater tunics, oversized shoulder padded shirts or big embellished T-shirts. The latter gradually reduced in size to become slimmer fitted and semi fitted garter stitch knits with fake fur collars, darted three-quarter shirts and screen printed T-tops minus the pads often worn with tie waist, easy loose trousers, jeans or boot leg trousers. The Filofax died as many people now had Laptops or electronic organisers to keep records. 

Sunday, 6 May 2012


At the beginning of the decade, the punk revolution was still in the air, although the general trend was to tone down and tame the original punk style. The eighties were as materialistic and materialistic can get. Women were now in the corporate world and had to dress the part. This is where the new trend of the Power Suit first came into contact with the working women. The suit consisted of being super smart, big shoulder pads and adopting a male look. It was extremely exaggerating and extravagant.
 In Britain, romance was in the air with the engagement of Prince Charles and “Lady Di” in February 1981. Their marriage the following July, televised worldwide, fulfilled all expectations. The bride’s fairy-tale dress was copied over and over again for less exalted weddings and helped to set the trend for full-blown romantic evening wear.
Paul Smith opened his first shop in Nottingham after working with his girlfriend at the time, which made the clothes that Smith designed. Paul Smith Vetement Pour Homme was the name of the shop. Smith was a squirrel-like collector and sold quirky knives, notebooks and pens that he picked up on his travels. His most inspired find was the Filofax, a personal organiser he discovered at a tiny company hidden under an east London railway arch.
The post-industrial age of computer-based technology became a reality in the 1980s. Perhaps the most dramatic change came in the office, with the desktop personal computer, first pioneered by the American company Apple. Chips, satellites, and other technologies like digital encoding and fibre optics transformed telecommunications, with computer, telephone, and television networks spreading all over the world. For the home consumer, new technology meant home computers, video-cassette recorders, compact discs, and the promise of big-screen high definition television.

After the release of her single "Like a Virgin" in late 1984, Madonna became a fashion icon for many young women around the world and copied her "street urchin" look with short skirts worn over leggings, brassieres worn as outer clothing, untidy hair, crucifix jewellery, and fishnet gloves. As well as the 1983 movie Flashdance made ripped sweatshirts popular.  Hip-Hop culture and Rap music also began influencing wider fashion trends, such as track suits (worn when not exercising), Kangol hats, including oversized gold jewellery on men and women.

Saturday, 5 May 2012


The seventies was name as the “Me Decade” by write, Tom Wolfe.  In terms of dress, fashion magazine like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar declared “Anything goes.” There were no rules when it came to fashion in the seventies. People mixed almost any colour and pattern together.  Retro styles were promoted by films like The Great Gatsby (1974).  Elements from radical chic to punk were running throughout the decade. Everyone wore everything and there seemed to be no structure at all. Everything was acceptable.
Fashion was all over the place and highly influenced by current events, movies, television and music along with exotic cultures.  Loose flowing robes, Nehru jackets, Indian and African influences in that of caftans, kimonos, muumuus along with peasant styles of eyelets with lacing, ric rac braids and angel sleeves. Macramé bags and bikinis came from the Greek Isles, Crochet waistcoats, shawls and ponchos from Spain along with the gypsy tops with drawn up necklines trimmed with bells and puffed sleeves.
Coco Chanel died on 10 January 1971, aged 87. She was still "designing, still working" at the time of her death.

The seventies brought disco fashion into the eyes of consumers. Hot pants, spandex, Lycra, bling - these were the looks that defined disco fashion in the '70s. Shiny pants in Lycra, waistcoats, animal prints, metallic sheen to clothes; all these were the biggest disco fashion trends in this decade. Jumpsuits and halter necks were other styles that were hugely popular with the disco crowd.

For most kids who grew up in the '70s, Saturday mornings were all about cartoons and Soul Train. Growing from humble beginnings as a weekday dance program in Chicago, Soul Trainwas hosted by dapper Don Cornelius—who was also the creator and producer of the landmark Black-owned-and-operated show that later moved to Los Angeles and became the longest running syndicated program in TV history. “The two biggest influences of the '70s were Don Cornelius and Bruce Lee,” says Beastie Boys member Ad-Rock. 

Tuesday, 1 May 2012


The 1960s were a great time to be young. Youth culture and youth fashions, which had begun to take shape in the fifties, blossomed as never before. Young people in the West were benefiting from the post-war industrial boom and had begun to refashion themselves accordingly. Fashion split the age groups and allowed freedom for the imagination, freedom for creative styles that the teenage population adopted. The new freedom of youth made itself felt on both sides of the Atlantic, and it also began to make ripples farther afield—in Japan, Africa, and Eastern Europe. The charts were virtually taken over by young, even teenage artists, who were making the music young listeners most wanted to hear. Biggest of all were the Beatles, four young men from Liverpool, England, who had begun by playing to packed nightclubs in England and Germany before storming the world stage in 1963. The Beatles’ clothes and hairstyles became the most familiar symbols of the new youth culture. In the mid-sixties, Motown, a record company under African American ownership, began to take a dominant share of the singles charts. Motown launched the careers of megastars like Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Michael Jackson, and Stevie Wonder. Instead of taking a rebellious stance, Motown promoted a smart, stylish image.  

Quant had been designing and manufacturing her own clothes since the late fifties, but the young, fun fashions she designed began to take off in the atmosphere of the early sixties. Her high point was undoubtedly the launch of the miniskirt—a fashionable skirt that rose eight or nine inches above the knee and stayed there, at least until the arrival of maxi and midi lengths in 1969–70.  

In the early sixties, the Soviet Union seemed to be well ahead of the United States in the race to space. In 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin completed one orbit of the earth. President Kennedy declared publicly that the United States would catch up, and in 1962, John Glenn became the first US astronaut to orbit the earth. Apollo 8’s flight during Christmas 1968 placed men for the first time in orbit around the moon—by far the most spectacular space flight to date.

The new decade had begun to show its true face by 1963. This was the year of worldwide Beatle-mania, and it was also the year that the mod cult erupted in Britain. Mods personified the early years of the Swinging Sixties—youth, mobility, fashion, and an intense interest in soul and R&B music. By the mid-sixties, they had begun to fade out.
Twiggy was undeniably the face of the sixties. 

Saturday, 28 April 2012


There was no change of direction on the political, economic, or fashion scenes to mark the start of the new decade. The war was over and life for the people of the 50s was good. The 1950’s were conservative, optimistic and sophisticated with the new captivating dimension of Television.  

The women of the 50s had the house to clean, the children to look after and barbecues and cocktail parties to plan. The focus of women in the fifties was to be the house wife. There were many occasions to dress up and dress up she did.  Christian Dior’s “New Look" and Coco Chanel helped out immensely with their glamorous designs to give her the “every inch the lady” look that was taught virtually from the cradle.  She wore gloves and simple feminine swing or pencil styled skirts that accentuated the hour glass figure. Teen girls were as conservative and preppy as their parents.  They wore dresses every-day, and petticoats over big gathered shirts. Cardigan sweaters worn backwards with the buttons down the back with a string of pearls or scarf. With Marilyn Monroe performing in The Asphalt Jungle and All about Eve, both in 1950, attention started soaring for the actress and model. Marilyn, even now is known as a pop and cultural icon.

America had emerged from the war years with increased prosperity. Wartime restrictions had been quickly removed, and the new “consumer society” was forging ahead, helped by such new developments as the start of the credit card system in 1950. But many European countries, Britain included, were still rebuilding their shattered economies, and there rationing continued well into the next decade. The new colours of the 50s were pastels – feminine shades, that would usually  be associated with bedroom and bathroom interior became popular in the kitchens. 

Friday, 27 April 2012


As the decade began, fashion had not really changed and was not very attention grabbing. The silhouette for the man and woman had hardly changed from the previous years. The female shape consisted of wide, padded shoulders; a narrow natural waistline; thin hips; and a skirt that fell to just below the knee. For men also, the line fell in an inverted triangle from square shoulders down to the waist and hips.
Accessories were still essential for women. Hats remained popular, with styles varying from those tipped over the forehead to those planted firmly on the back of the head. During the war, however, hats were increasingly replaced by fabric head scarves and turbans, especially for women involved in war work in factories. It could be said that hats were one of the casualties of war. For a time, there was also a vogue for “snoods,” a kind of pouch made of fabric or of knitted or crocheted yarn that held fashionable long hair in place at the nape of the neck. Purses took the form of small box bags, especially in black plastic patent with a mirror in the lid. For daytime, women carried over-the-shoulder bags or large “clutch” bags without handles. “Crushed” suede gloves with flaring cuffs were popular for day wear. These were elbow length but were worn casually pushed down the arm; hence the name crushed. For evening wear, shirred (gathered with elastic thread) rayon jersey gloves were considered a glamour accessory around 1944 as fabric replaced leather. Despite this continuity, there had already been occasional hints of change on the runways of the fashion salons in both Paris and New York, where a number of designers had been experimenting with a new silhouette focusing on the waist. 

In 1947, Dior introduced the "New Look", featuring longer and fuller skirts and a return to the classic femininity of a nipped waist. 


Fashion of the 1930s was directly influenced by the great Wall Street Crash and the depression that the crash caused. The crash also directed the beginning of the decade saw women sewing more and clothing was mended and patched before being replaced which meant less ready-to-wear garments were purchased.
A softer, more feminine style replaced the boyish, flapper look of the twenties. At the beginning of the decade, hemlines dropped dramatically to the ankle and remained there until the end of the thirties. Necklines were lowered and darts were replaced by soft gathers and the dress waists returned to the natural waistline. Necklines were often with wide scallop-edged or ruffled collars. Skirts were also designed with great detail with the layered and ruffled looks being popular. The skirt bottom was often full with pleats or gathers.
The entertainment industry continued to exert a strong influence over fashion. Movies were one of the few escapes from the harsh reality of the Depression. Movie star endorsements of styles and accessories became common, especially with evening wear. A popular formal look was the empire-waist gown, with ties at the back, and exaggerating the look with butterfly or large, puffy sleeves. Hemlines fell at the ankle and trains added a further formal touch. Bows were another popular accent.
Fur of all kinds was worn extensively during this era, both during the day and at night. Fur capes, coats, stoles wraps, accessories and trimmings adorned women’s dresses. Pelts in demand were sable, mink, chinchilla, Persian lamb and silver fox.
Women’s sportswear was influenced by a more masculine style. Sport suits, leather jackets and middy slacks became popular. The cloche hat was replaced by the beret which was worn at an angle. Pill boxes became popular along with brimmed hats.
Washable, easy-care fabrics were introduced during this decade. The first openly synthetic fibres were developed in the 1930s. In 1935 the DuPont de Nemours Company successfully synthesized nylon. Nylon was introduced in stockings during 1939 but its use in fashion was interrupted by World War II which meant the use of the synthetic fibre was not widespread until after the war.

Friday, 13 April 2012


Youth in this decade was at a minimum because so many young people were killed during the war. As a result, teenagers had a new freedom that they used to usher in the Afro-influenced jazz age. Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, Rudolf Valentino, and Josephine Baker were popular stars of the time, personifying many of the modern ideals.
For women, face, figure, coiffure, posture and grooming became important fashion factors in addition to clothing. In particular, cosmetics became a major industry. Glamour was now an important fashion trend, due to the influence of the motion picture industry and the famous female movie stars.
 The 1920s saw the emergence of three major women's fashion magazines: Vogue, The Queen, and Harper's Bazaar. Vogue was first published in 1892, but its up-to-date fashion information did not have a marked impact on women's desires for fashionable garments until the 20's. These magazines provided mass exposure for popular styles and fashions.
During the early 1920s, waistlines were at the waist, but were loose and not fitted. Women wore suits with long hemlines and somewhat full skirts, often with belts at the waist of the jackets. Dress and suit bodices alike were worn loose, even baggy. By 1923, waistlines began to drop to a point between the natural waist and hips, while styles continued to be loose and baggy. In 1924 the waistline dropped to the hip.

In 1925, "shift" type dresses with no waistline emerged. At the end of the decade, dresses were being worn with straight bodices and collars. Tucks at the bottom of the bodices were popular, as well as knife-pleated skirts with a hem approximately one inch below the knee.
In 1928, styles changed again, hemlines rose to the knee and dresses became more fitted. These changes laid the foundation for the elegantly styled fashions of the 1930s.Women, celebrating such liberties as the right to vote in , were now more daring than ever before. It was considered fun to smoke, visit speakeasies, wear makeup, swear, and otherwise shock conventional thinkers. In 1927 when short skirts were all the rage; young women strove to show off their knees. Many girls even rolled down their stockings and painted rouge on their knees in an effort to emulate a "naughty schoolgirl" look. The curiosity for exotic arts and culture was fueled by the discovery of Egyptian King Tutankhamen's tomb in 1922. Egyptian themes appeared in everything from furniture to clothing. 

Thursday, 5 April 2012


In the early part of the decade, fashion was fairly calm and collected, but this all changed in 1914 when World War I broke out. The war changed the world and fashion forever. WWI was the most dramatic event of the decade and even past decades, but a number of other important events  also happened. Events like the women's suffrage movement, the roots of Prohibition, and the Great Influenza epidemic of 1918 fundamentally changed American society. The RMS Titanic sank on her maiden voyage in 1912. Frank Lloyd Wright's Arts & Crafts movement began to take hold, and silent films featuring stars such as Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford were adored.
Dresses took on a whole new look. Gone was the corseted waist and in its place was the hobble skirt taken from the Middle East where it was known as the “harem”. Paul Poiret who as the time was a well-known designer was credited for his work in fashion as he was heavily influenced by the eastern design and colours. Some of his skirts were so narrow that it was nearly impossible to move in them. Shoes and hosiery also became more exotic and colourful, most notably when Poiret commissioned the Perugia shoemakers to create a line of Eastern-style jewelled slippers.

The Great War (1914 to 1918) had changed people's lives in every aspect. Family men and everyday men went off to fight in Europe and the women were left at home to work in the local factories and look after their homes and family. As the women's independence increased, so too did their levels of activity and their desire for practical shoes. Shoes and clothing were collected as part of the war effort and people were encouraged to be less delicate. Clothing became more practical, taking on a tailored, mannish appearance. Hemlines began to inch up as wartime shortages made fabric hard to come across.  Fashion again took a dramatic turn when the war ended. As interests changed, so did clothing. Sportswear was increasing in popularity and such fashions were soon incorporated into everyday dress. U.S. Rubber developed the first sneaker, called Keds, in 1917. 


The period between 1901-1910 is often called the Edwardian Era, also known as La Belle Epoque which means ‘the beautiful era.’ This was a time when woman’s fashions took on a new opulence and extravagance, inspired by the decadent lifestyle of Britain's King Edward VII. It proved to be an era consisting of beautiful clothes and the peak of luxury living.

As the century changed so changed clothing design trends. Gone was the bustle (a pad at the rear end) and heavy fabrics of the previous century. A new, lighthearted concept overtook women's fashions along with a sentiment of eternal summer with dresses made of light weight fabrics for a more active lifestyle. This came hand-in-hand with the women entering a changing, more commercial workplace and wanting more independence in the future.

Traveling suits were also necessary since motor cars had come into vogue and those who could afford them purchased them and spent many a weekend day traveling. Since these cars were usually open, they created dusty and dirty atmospheres as country roads were often unpaved. Along with the ladies' traveling suits, loose topcoats in leather were worn, or special motoring coats from Burberry or Aquascutum. These also acted as protection from the weather and cold. Oil blasts could be a problem so women also wore thick face veils with their hats and even goggles. Very deep high lace fabric collars that reached right under the chin elongated the neck. High necks were usual by day, but by night exceptionally low sweetheart, square and round low-cut necklines allowed women to wear quantities of fine jewellery and no cleavage was visible as the bust was suppressed into a tight monobosom.

Early in the decade, with all the fussing about with the top portion of the female body people developed a preference for narrow feet, which was believed to be a sign of breeding and gentility. Both men and women regularly wore shoes that were a full size too small. Some women even opted to have their little toes removed to achieve narrower feet.

The years from 1900 to the outbreak of World War I were a time of extravagance and ostentation. The function of clothing was becoming more practical especially with the motorcar coming into vogue. The late years of the decade were geared towards making the 'world safe for democracy'. WWI changed not only fashion, it changed the entire world forever.