Vivienne Westwood and Wool

Vivienne Westwood is a well-known British fashion icon. During the 70’s this influential designer pioneered bringing punk style into the mainstream. 
She showed no signs of slowing down during the 80’s when she released collections with her then husband Malcolm McLaren. The titles for these exciting ranges were almost as thrilling as the clothes,  ‘Savages’, ‘Nostalgia of Mud’ and Punkature were just a few.

McLaren came up with the idea for the outfits and Westwood brought them to life. The pair used fetishists and bikers as some of their muses. McLaren also managed the infamous Sex Pistols. Of course the band were more than happy to showcase Westwood’s garments, and inevitably some of their notoriety rubbed off on the design team.

Since then the brand has gone from strength to strength. Westwood has so many celebrity clients it would be impossible to name them all. British royalty, rappers, actresses and singers across the world have indulged in the expensive punk trend.

Tartan is a pattern that has been a recurring theme in Westwood’s work. Amongst all the anarchy and rule breaking there is a lot of British tradition to be found.

Westwood recently rediscovered a passion for wool and has remarked, “As a fashion designer I’ve had a very close relationship with wool. Wool is incredibly versatile. What I delighted in was how it had been used for all the uniforms for the British Empire. I treat it as a joke now, and parody it if I ever refer to it. Every kind of cloth was woven for a purpose, to be useful in certain situations where a uniform was necessary, for example hunting foxes, going to the North Pole, opening Parliament, going to school. I have used wool a lot in my designs.”

Westwood is especially fond of fine knitwear, which was originally difficult for her to source. Most mills did not even have the correct equipment to make such a product.

It is a common misconception that wool is exclusively for winter weather and should be thick. This eco friendly fabric is equally suited to warm temperatures if used correctly. After all, it was created to keep sheep at the right temperature all year round!

Luckily for Westwood and other fashion designers, the industry has caught up with many British mills reopening to keep up with demand. With traditional methods being added to by more modern innovations, the industry seems set to evolve even further over the next few years. It seems many top designers are interested in reintroducing this lost classic to their collections.

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