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Vivienne Isabel Swire was born in Glossop, Derbyshire, England, on April 8, 1941. Considered one of the most unconventional and outspoken fashion designers in the world, Westwood rose to fame in the late 1970s when her early designs helped shape the look of the punk rock movement.
In 1962 Westwood married Derek Westwood and had a son. The couple divorced three years later.
After partnering with Sex Pistols manager Malcolm Mclaren and having another son with him, Westwood married for a second time, this time to her assistant, Andreas Kronthaler, in 1992.
In 1971 Mclaren opened a boutique shop at 430 Kings Road in London and started filling it with Westwood's designs. While the name of the shop seemed to be in constant flux — it was changed five times — it proved to be an important fashion center for the punk movement. When Mclaren became manager of the Sex Pistols, it was Westwood's designs that dressed the band and help it carve out its identity.
But as the punk movement faded, Westwood was hardly content to rest on her laurels. She's constantly been ahead of the curve, not just influencing fashion, but often times dictating it. After her run with the Sex Pistols, Westwood went an entirely new direction with her Pirate collection of frilly shirts and other attire. Her styles have also included the mini-crini of the 1980s and the frayed tulle and tweed suit of the 1990s. She's even proved it's perfectly possible to make a subversive statement with underwear. "Vivienne's effect on other designers has been rather like a laxative," English designer Jasper Conran once explained. "Vivienne does, and others follow."
Coupled with Westwood's unconventional style sense, is an outspokenness and daring that demonstrates a certain level of fearlessness about her and her work. In one famous incident, she impersonated Margaret Thatcher on the cover of a British magazine. To do so, she wore a suit Thatcher had ordered but not yet received, an act that made Thatcher irate.
Still, Westwood's influence is hard to deny. Twice she has been named British designer of the year and was awarded the O.B.E. (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in 1992.
For more than 30 years, even after she had long made her fortune and fame, Westwood lived in the same small South London apartment, paying just $400 a month for the home and riding her bike to her studio in Battersea.
In 1992, ten years after Westwood and Mclaren split, Westwood married for a second time, to her assistant, Andreas Kronthaler, who is 25 years her junior. Today, Kronthaler is her design partner. The couple resides in South London.
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