English designer Vivienne Westwood might be the biggest, most successful name in fashion most-often tied to music—or, more specifically, punk rock.
Westwood eventually crossed paths with Malcolm McLaren, the eventual manager of the Sex Pistols (and later, the New York Dolls). Together, McLaren and Westwood not only revolutionized punk fashion as we know it today, but they also helped introduce it to mainstream culture.
McLaren opened a series of stores starting in 1971 in London, in which Westwood sold her eccentric designs. The first store was called Let It Rock, hawking 1950s-revival merch, outfitting Brit Teddy Boys, whose look was mainly inspired by Edwardian-period fashion (and eventually gave way to the rockabilly style). The store was later known as Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die, then it became bondage/fetish fashion store Sex Shop, and then first “authentic” English punker-clothing storefront Seditionaries. The Sex Pistols wore Westwood’s clothing during their first concert. BDSM, safety pins, tears, leather: anti-fashion.
Westwood’s designs were and still are characterized by her unique techniques—applying cloth-cutting methods plucked from the 17th and 18th centuries to contemporary looks, a rampant use of tartan, and ornate draping.
Though there are plenty of contenders these days, there’s still no one else who can do rocker-chic like Westwood. As you know, she has also adapted to high fashion, runway looks, incorporating that same punk frivolity with uh, normal wear—things everyone and anyone could see themselves in.
One of Westwood’s latest collaborations is with Brazilian shoe company Melissa. Known for its “jelly” shoes (with every pair featuring a bubblegum scent!), Melissa has joined forces with Westwood to release a line of plastic footwear—and it’s not the jelly sandals from your childhood. Sweet designs featuring slingback heels finished with a large heart, flats in every color you can imagine . . . all sensible, all comfortable and all fairly priced—and probably the only piece of fashion you and I can own with Westwood’s name on it.