WORDS BY STEPHEN YU
The History of Vivienne Westwood
From punk rock queen to receiving an OBE from the real Queen herself, Britain’s greatest fashion designer (it’s official) is undeniably fashion royalty. What began as a small market stall selling jewellery, has now grown into one England's most long-living fashion empires. Westwood’s ascent to fashion monarchy is chronicled in four stages.
‘The Kings Road’ era saw a young Westwood alongside then-lover and partner-in-crime Malcolm McClaren (known as the manager of the Sex Pistols) upsetting the British establishment with their provocative t-shirt graphics and use of bondage-style sips and straps on clothing at their now legendary Kings Road outpost. But, following the collapse of the Sex Pistols and mainstreaming of punk culture, a disenchanted Westwood shifts focus to historical clothing – her seminal fashion collection ‘Pirate’ was inspired by the original cut and shape of pirate trousers and neck holes. The following years see Westwood deftly take aim at the dress codes of the upper classes creating parodies of so-called ‘Tatler’ girls, before exploring England and France’s long-standing relationship at the forefront of fashion by mixing British tailoring and dandyism with French proportions and attention to detail. Modern Vivienne Westwood is now typified by its approach to gender neutrality and a focus on cuts that best showcases the natural dynamism of each fabric.
Now, although Dame Vivienne Westwood is now very much an accepted British institution and icon that doesn’t mean she’s given up on the controversy that kick-started her career. As a vocal activist for causes such as Occupy London, Cool Earth and Julian Assange, it’s clear she still knows a thing or two about how to upset the establishment.
What Does The Vivienne Westwood Symbol Mean?
The Vivienne Westwood logo named ‘The Orb’ was created in 1986. After splitting with McClaren, Westwood was on a year-long sabbatical in Italy working alongside Elio Fiorucci. It was here, whilst working on a collection based on royalty but with a futuristic touch, where she first had the idea of taking tradition into the future. On a wool jumper designed for Prince Charles to wear when off-duty, Westwood played around with various British insignia before focusing on the orb found on the crown jewels. To bring that future aesthetic to the insignia, she added the rings of Saturn which was inspired by pictures she’d seen in astronomy magazines. Her friend and now business manager Carlo D’Amario said it was the perfect logo for the brand as it encapsulated Vivienne’s wish to take tradition into the future. One only issue was that it had a striking similarity to the Harris Tweed logo, but as one of the first designers in ages to use their fabrics for her AW87 collection, she revived their business and had their blessings.
How To Clean Vivienne Westwood Jewellery
Vivienne Westwood uses mostly sterling silver and brass alongside imitation metals and stones on their jewellery. Though all metals do tarnish over time regular cleaning and proper storage will extend the life of your most beloved pieces:
Sterling silver is a precious metal and therefore needs looking after. We recommend regular cleaning using jewellery specific cleaning cloth in circular motions.
Otherwise, if you don’t have this or you’re cleaning imitation metals you can use a soft toothbrush dipped in a mixture of lukewarm water and washing up liquid. Avoid using hard brushes and dip-in silver cleaning agents as they may damage any stones and oxidized finishes.
How to prevent oxidisation:
Tarnishing occurs when sterling silver and imitation metals come into contact with perfumes, salts, sulphuric compounds, skincare products, hair products, chlorine and acids from your skin. Follow the below to prevent this:
Apply perfumes and fragrances, then allow to dry before putting on any jewellery.
Ensure you remove any jewellery when washing or using cleaning products – the harsh chemicals found in soaps and detergents can tarnish them.
How to storage:
Storing your jewellery properly can protect them from airborne reagents that lead to tarnishing. We recommend:
Store jewellery in clear sealable plastic bags to create an air-tight environment. Don’t use plastic or bin bags as they contain sulphuric compounds which can make metals tarnish at a faster rate.
Make sure you keep your jewellery outside of the bathroom – humidity and sulphites from air fresheners will lead to greater oxidisation.
Only Dame Viv could make a pair of silver stud earrings this punk.
A rose-gold finish and crystal embellishments make this pendant a ladylike choice.
Adding subtle details to a timeless stainless steel watch effectively communicates Vivienne Westwood’s sense of experimentation and playful rebellion.
She’s taken a delicate rose gold-tone bracelet and made it cool with the addition of the signature orb.
Silver rhodium gives this ring a utilitarian vibe that is only accentuated by the scrawled logo and irregular heart silhouette.
Showcasing the designer’s unrivalled vision, these earrings capture the whimsy of ‘Alice In Wonderland’ with a snail motif that adds an idiosyncratic touch.
An iridescent alabaster finish alongside a crystal-encrusted faux-gold pendant make this necklace a serious show-stopper.