The Flowers of Romance
Punk style's grand dame leaves her mark on the Bay Area and summer fashion
Photographs by Dina Scoppettone
Vivienne Westwood, the grand dame of designer punk, has been blowing minds since the '70s, when she gave the music its look almost by accident.
Well, nothing that involves Malcolm McLaren, her partner in crime at the London boutique Sex, could rightfully be called an accident. On the Sex Pistols' autopsy film and record The Great Rock and Roll Swindle, McLaren claims to have micromanaged the rise of Johnny Rotten and company—and by extension, the music revolution of 1977—but it's Westwood who made perhaps the biggest impact of all by giving them their look. The uniform of punk as established by the Ramones and London's street kids had previously been an almost retro-'50s cool—T-shirts and leather jackets a la James Dean and Eddie Cochrane.
Now, Eddie Cochrane was cool, but he certainly wasn't scary. When Westwood dolled up Johnny Rotten and company in her designs, adding a sleeker and edgier sadomasochistic element to the Pistols' assault, unprepared audiences suddenly had a visual image to put to the band's threat in "God Save the Queen": "We're the future—your future."
As big a schemer as McLaren himself, Westwood had been developing her style for years before the appearance of the Pistols, back when her shop was called Let It Rock. And she never lost her ability to never mind the fashion world's expectations.
That's why those who dropped into her exhibit, Vivienne Westwood: 36 Years in Fashion, expecting a gallery full of razor blades and safety pins, were in for quite a shock. Westwood's dresses are more New Romantic than punk rock, her pale make-up design and retro hairstyles more Klaus Nomi than Sid Vicious. Westwood is famous for incorporating a historical touch to her designs—even the tartan look that is now so associated with short skirts for punk dolls started as a way to satirize (and scandalize) U.K. traditionalists.
The appearance of Westwood's work here in the Bay Area is what inspired Metro's fashion issue this summer. This is the time for festivals and summer tours, music that often traces its style all the way back to Westwood, whether Gwen Stefani knows it or not (to be fair, she probably does). Taking a cue from the designer's penchant for taking looks that are natural enemies and pitting them against one another, we took the most mannered of rock looks and set it in the most uncivilized natural surroundings. But the overall effect captures Westwood's ability to unify such clashing elements into a startling and cohesive effect. There is no questioning the effect she's had on the urban and uppity culture that vibrates through Silicon Valley—in the clubs, on the streets, in any office even remotely hip. It's payback time. God save the Queen.
Emmit: G-Star short-sleeve striped tee, black dress shirt and white belt all available at G-Star. Black MOMA dress shoes available at Gimme Shoes. Watch, model's own. Scarf, stylist's own.
Carla: Betsey Johnson dress available at Betsey Johnson boutique. Red patent leather belt available at www.target.com. Stacey Cameron ribbon bracelets with vintage jewels and Stacey Cameron earrings both available at www.staceycameron.com. Dorotea 'Ursula red' sandals available at Erica Tanov boutique. Lace ankle socks, stylist's own.
Patrick: Penguin by Munsingwear pants available at www.penguinclothing.com. G-Star short-sleeve black shirt, beanie and leather belt all available at G-Star. MOMA brown-and-white leather shoes available at Gimme Shoes. Mechanic's shirt, stylist's own.
Corey: Betsey Johnson dress available at Betsey Johnson boutique. Stacey Cameron ribbon bracelets with vintage jewels and Stacey Cameron earrings both available at www.staceycameron.com. Para Gabia wedge sandals available at Erica Tanov boutique. Cherry scarf available at www.target.com. Tights and necklace, stylist's own.
Corey: Cari Borja ruffled jacket and skirt available at www.cariborja.com. Stacey Cameron ribbon bracelet with antique jewels available at www.staceycameron.com. Twenty-two gold heels available at Gimme Shoes. Other bracelets, stylist's own.
Patrick: G-Star white dress shirt and suspenders available at G-Star. John Malkovich knit tie. Black MOMA shoes available at Gimme Shoes. Pin-stripe slacks, model's own.
Carla: Cari Borja black-and-white ruffle tiered dress available at www.cariborja.com. Stacey Cameron silver chain drop earrings and key necklace both available at www.staceycameron.com. Lucite bracelets and scarf, stylist's own.
Patrick: G-Star leather bomber, V-neck sweater and silk scarf all available at G-Star. Black MOMA shoes available at Gimme Shoes. Pin-stripe slacks, model's own. White tank, stylist's own.
Carla: Cari Borja coat with tails and two tulle skirts available at www.cariborja.com. Stacey Cameron earrings available at www.staceycameron.com. Heels, tank, tights and belt, all stylist's own.
Corey: Cari Borja ruffled coat and skirt available at www.cariborja.com. Twenty-two gold heels available at Gimme Shoes. Stacey Cameron drop earrings available at www.staceycameron.com. Lace tank top and tights, stylist's own.
Emmit: Band of Brothers vest and slacks available at ROLO. G-Star short-sleeve striped shirt available at G-Star. Black MOMA shoes available at Gimme Shoes. Fedora available at ROLO. Bandana, model's own.
Styled by: MinaDrake
Hair by: Jet for Miss Mae's
Makeup by: Megan for Tonic
Models: Carla, Corey, Emmit and Patrick
Location assistant: C.J. Bell
Driver: Rafael for Summit Limousine (bIoLIMo)
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