Vivienne Isabel Swire was born in Derbyshire on 8th April 1941 to Gordon and Dora Swire who were greengrocers. She left grammar school aged 16 and moved to London with her family. There Vivienne attended Harrow Art School and studied fashion and silversmithing, but left after one term quoting “I didn’t know how a working-class girl like me could possibly make a living in the art world”. I think this is a very normal statement for an artist to make as all of them have had doubts if they can make a living from their chosen career. I also have doubts about how I could make a living in the art world but it’s the love of art and fashion that kept Vivienne trying and will keep me motivated. She took up a job in a factory in the hopes of becoming a primary school teacher, and soon succeeded in this. At this time, lots of women were taking jobs in factories as they still weren’t seen as ‘able’ to do a mans job like a banker or a doctor. During her time of study and teaching, she made jewellery to sell at a stall on Portobello Road which is a street in Notting Hill, London known for it’s unique market. There are lots of antique stalls, jewellery stalls and vintage clothing stalls. Some of the most famous fashion and jewellery designers and artists have worked on or had stalls on Portobello Road and to this day it is seen as an honour. Lots of celebrities visit the markets for vintage clothing, such as Kate Moss, the Geldof sisters and Mischa Barton. Vivienne met Derek Westwood who was a hoover factory apprentice at the time in 1961 and they married a year later on 21st July. Vivienne made her own wedding dress for the ceremony unknown to the fact that she would be famous worldwide for designing wedding dresses later on in life. In 1963, she gave birth to her first son, Benjamin Westwood who followed in his mother’s wild attitude and is now a pornographic photographer. When Westwood met Malcolm McLaren, her marriage to Derek ended. They lived...
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