With a mother who worked in a cotton mill and a father who hailed from a family of shoemakers, it might have seemed destined for Vivienne Westwood to pursue a staid career in fashion. Yet, the indelible mark she would eventually scrawl across the business and the broader culture owed instead to what she termed an “in-built perversity,” sparked by a seminal 1965 meeting with Malcolm McLaren. Together, the two went on to frame the visual language of punk. And when their partnership ended, Ms. Westwood continued alone in pursuit of what she once told the historian Jon Savage was her tendency to “react against anything orthodox,” ransacking the history of dress for bondage gear, corsetry (worn as outerwear), dandies’ finery, buccaneer’s raw hides, crinolines and clan tartans to push fashion insistently in the direction of her raw and edgy notions of beauty, her eclectic politics and her lifelong determination to kick out the jams and subvert all norms.
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