Vivienne Westwood

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Dame Vivienne Westwood, DBE, RDI (born Vivienne Isabel Swire on 8 April 1941) is a British fashion designer and businesswoman, largely responsible for bringing modern punk and new wave fashions into the mainstream.[1]


Early life

Westwood was born Vivienne Isabel Swire in the village of Tintwistle, Derbyshire[N 1] on 8 April 1941;[2] the daughter of Gordon Swire and Dora Swire (née Ball), who had married two years previously, two weeks after the outbreak of World War II.[3] At the time of Vivienne's birth, her father was employed as a storekeeper in an aircraft factory, however he had previously worked as a greengrocer.[3]

Aged 17, Vivienne and her family moved, to Harrow, London. She studied at the Harrow School of Art, taking fashion and silversmithing, but left after one term, saying "I didn't know how a working-class girl like me could possibly make a living in the art world".[4] After taking up a job in a factory and studying at a teacher-training college, Vivienne became a primary school teacher.[2] During this period, she also created her own jewellery, which she would sell at a stall on Portobello Road.[2]

Vivienne met Derek Westwood, a Hoover factory apprentice, in 1961 in Harrow.[5] They married on 21 July 1962 and Vivienne made her own wedding dress for the ceremony.[5] In 1963, Westwood gave birth to a son, named Benjamin Westwood.[5]

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