Celebrating designer Vivienne Westwood, queen of punk

(CBS News) Cutting-edge outfits from the Punk era of the 1970s were the creation of designer Vivienne Westwood. Perhaps we should call her WILD WILD WESTWOOD. Anthony Mason brings it all back:


Punk was born to be incendiary, designed to provoke . . . a rebel yell in sound and fashion.

In New York this summer, the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is celebrating punk's legacy

No other countercultural movement, the Met claims, has had a greater influence on fashion

And there would have been no punk look without the lady in the orange hair.

"I remember designing some of these things," said Vivienne Westwood. "I remember I was very pleased with the graphics for that one after I worked it out."

In London in the 1970s, Westwood was the movement's designer and seamstress. She recalled, "I used to have a pile of muslin and cut them all together and not waste a scrap of fabric."

The guiding spirit of the punk image told Mason "I never, ever tried to shock people."

But she did! "The best way to confront British society," Westwood once said, "was to be as obscene as possible."

"At the time of punk rock, I was so outraged at the way the world is so corrupt and mismanaged and everything, that the look was supposed to be of an urban guerrilla," she told Mason. "It was somehow a kind of crusade to challenge the status quo."

At the Met she described some of the ways she did do: "We took some of the trousers from the rockers and motorbike things. And then I did some bondage straps, too, and started to get a look of, like, an army thing."

Hers was a fashion rebellion made of ripped fabric, safety pins and S&M gear. All familiar now, but outrageous then.

"For many years the newspapers thought of me as unwearable," Westwood said. "Nothing to do with fashion. English people are very snobby anyway. They don't like very artistic people to start with.

"They love me now!"

At 72, she's now a national treasure. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow wears her clothes. So does Meryl Streep. And in the 2008 film "Sex & the City," the character Carrie Bradshaw picks a Vivienne Westwood bridal gown.

But Westwood, who started out a primary school teacher, never wanted to be a fashion designer.

"Actually I started [with] fashion to help my boyfriend," she said. "He just needed somebody to help him make these clothes. And I always could make things, yeah."

Her boyfriend was Malcolm McLaren, manager of the pioneering punk rock band, the Sex Pistols.

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