LOOKING BACK AT VIVIENNE WESTWOOD'S SEDITIONARIES
On the 29th of December 2023, the aptly named 'queen of punk', Vivienne Westwood left the fashion world at the age of 81. In the early 1970s Westwood, having previously sought a career in teaching, met the artist Malcolm McLaren, spurring her drive for idealism that was already complimented by an innate talent for dressmaking. This spawned the household name we know today.
VIVIENNE WESTWOOD AND MALCOM MCLAREN'S VISION FOR SEDITIONARIES
Westwood and McLaren largely rejected the hippie ethos that had made its mark towards the late 60s, instead creating clothes that referenced the youth culture of rock'n'roll. This manifested itself through a shop unit at 430 Kings Road in Chelsea. In 1974, the shop took on its lasting identity: SEX. This controversial move meant that Westwood and McLaren were designing fetish wear that they sold to prostitutes and proto-punks. After several renamings the two would, in 1976, would land on the enduring name 'Seditionaries'.
The pair enjoyed the facetious nature of shock and awe, with garments referencing illicit sexual practices. Take the 'Sid & Nancy' t-shirt below where we observe two classic Disney figures engaging in sexual activity. These kinds of prints would have seldom have been seen on clothes at the time and took a certain confidence and 'fuck-you' attitude heralded by punk culture amongst the youth of the time.
ENDURING LEGACY OF VIVIENNE WESTWOOD & SEDITIONARIES
Menswear always remained a part of Westwood's practice, having initially began by creating Teddy Boy clothes for McLaren prior to her full-time commitment to fashion. Provocative slogans or silhouettes with removable sexual elements. You name it, the queen of punk did it. Below we highlight some standout pieces that are particularly memorable.