The Punk Spirit: Vivienne Westwood strikes up a revolution
Vivienne Westwood's pearl orb choker has became trendy again, or maybe it never went out of style. From HF Twitter accounts praising Vivienne to celebrities wearing vintage Westwood pieces, she is re-dominating the fashion industry. It's not the choker that makes a statement. I feel like if somebody is linked with fashion somehow, they would want to get married in the archetypal Vivienne 1999 wedding dress.
Even though the 70's seem to be long gone, a lot of the items that we see and consider as "staple ordinary pieces" was brought upon by the punk movement, like the go-to Doc Martens. Even sex (all that BDSM toys, gears and costumey stuff that we think was magically made famous by Mr Christian Grey) was something brought up by the punk subculture.
Punk is a reaction against the system and the conformity of it. It was chaotic, something that didn't match the idea of a "great" society. That's why it was new and exciting.
There is no doubt that Vivienne was one of the pioneers of the punk movement. When she and Malcom Mclaren (another very important punk figure and manager of the Sex Pistols) opened up their shop SEX, -a bold name to begin with- they became the center in a rebellious orbit. As punk movement takes its inspiration everything that are left in the dark and not talked about, the store's name being a bold SEX!!!!!! makes a lot of sense. A New York Times article once called Vivienne The Queen of Extreme, and I couldn't agree more with that, after all, she was the queen of the underground scene of London, inspiring designers who would later juxtapose punk elements with the fashion of the preset like Jean Paul Gaultier and Anna Sui.
For starters, the Pirate collection was game-changing and from that moment on Vivienne kept reinventing what punk meant and developed the meaning of punk by trying to create something more exciting than ripped clothes and safety pins. "Vivienne's heroes changed from punks and ragamuffins to 'Tatler' girls wearing clothes that parodied the upper class". Because punk fashion was an anti-materialistic movement (for example Patti Smith didn't wear ripped jeans because she wanted to or because she saw it on Vogue and felt like it looked trendy, her jeans were distressed from sleeping in the streets) and what Vivienne did with those images was taking all the punk elements and what represented the culture and transform it to fit her "new romantic" or "pagan" (a minor reference to her fashion shows) Basically, she tried to parody the clothes worn by the upper classes and subtly mock the rich. The shows radiated a huge sexual energy that came from that attitude within. Who said corsets, pearls and dresses could't strike up a revolution? Furthermore celebrities like Bella Hadid, FKA Twigs, Madona all share the love for the eccentric designer.
Vivienne wasn't only a part of creating such impactful and revolutionary movement and brought it into the Parisian fashion scene but she kept and keeps reinventing it as the years go by, she represents the punk spirt in flesh, (we are talking about a 79 year old woman who still attends protests midst a pandemic) and taught us how rebelling via fashion could be done.