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Reflections: The Vivienne Westwood Vault Collection

Reflections: The Vivienne Westwood Vault Collection

Posted by Philip Browne on

Worlds End Boutique, as it is known today, is situated at 430 Kings Road and opened in 1970 under the guise of Let It Rock. It became the iconic home from which Vivienne Westwood and her then boyfriend, Malcolm MacLaren, created the vehicle in which to question culture, politics and mass consumerism.

The shop rebranded itself with each collection made, it was unique, provocative, eventually propelling itself into the mainstream in 1976 with The Sex Pistols now infamous single, God Save The Queen.

During 1969 I became a suede head. Mohair suits, a 14 inch vent, loafers and a sheepskin coat was my attire. Dancing to ska and reggae at The Orange Blossom Club in GT. Yarmouth, I was, I thought, the order of the day.

In youth you live in the present, so as with all art, music, and visual stimulation, it floats ethereally like when you are young. So progressing from ska, Floyd, Zeppelin, to watching Bowie at The Norwich Theatre Royal in 1973, the Westwood world, if I were to be honest, frightened me. Rebellious, confrontational, and visually aggressive, it was a world I silently wanted to be part of.

On reflection, I was probably a closet punk. A gig I attended in October 79 at the West Runton Pavilion headlining the Cure and Siouxie and The Banshees provoked and excited me. Line dancing suede head style was one thing, but being in the midst of a punk mosh pit was another!

Thus it came to pass I was never adorned with punk style, but silently I wished for a spiked green mohican hair cut that sadly was never to be.

To write about her brilliance as an innovator of fashion would be to repeat what has been widely scribed, so for this introduction, I merely inform the viewer that my secret fetish of being able to buy Vivienne Westwood clothing was given to me by default. Becoming an owner operator of a small mens boutique in Norwich in 1986 allowed me to finally fulfil my secret ambition.

In the late 80s and 90s, a handful of open minded buyers purchased Westwood's collections. I never made a profit. Deliveries were random, sizing not to order, colours or fabrics changed, but her brilliant confrontational style remained - and I kept returning.

I attended many catwalk shows in Paris and Milan. Fabulous occasions where the fashion world was forced to take note of her growing prowess as a truly international designer.

These individual pieces photographed here represent a small fraction of the first MAN and original Anglomania collections that I sold. What they cannot show is the love and affection that my customers have been given from them. Years on, they still return to proudly smile and tell their stories of the life of their Westwood piece. Who they were with, where they were and how kindred friendships developed from the mutual love for a piece of Westwood clothing.

It was a turbulent and joyous ride buying these early collections, and I hope you enjoy our images, and perhaps even purchase a part of the Westwood history.

Vivienne Westwood, to quote ‘has given fashion a new language and vocabulary'. Long may her legacy continue, I have no doubt it will.

Photography: Kev Foster www.kevfoster.com
Models: Wink Evans, Rich Evans (Rag & Bone)
Shot on location at Deco Days (37 St.Giles Street, Norwich)

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