Vivienne Westwood
By: Lynn Peril | Categories: HiLo Heroes, Popular

One might imagine that, at age 70, fashion designer VIVIENNE WESTWOOD’s (born 1941) days shocking the bourgeoisie might be long over. After all, when you have almost single-handedly invented the punk look (Cambridge Rapist t-shirts, anyone?), not to mentioned weathered a relationship with one of the most notorious self-promoters of the late 20th century (New York Dolls and Sex Pistols manager, Malcolm McLaren), when you have twirled for joy in front of the paparazzi after receiving the Order of the British Empire from the Queen of England only to remember — too late — that you aren’t wearing underpants, what, really, do you for an encore? Marrying a former student 25 years younger than yourself is a good step, of course. Writing a manifesto railing against the “drug of consumerism” while selling $600 shoes is another. But, I submit, one of the most subversive things you can do, particularly as a doyenne of the fashion industry, is to make no attempt to hide the ravages of time upon your face, all the while dressing like you don’t give a tinker’s damn what the world thinks an “old lady” is supposed to look like. Because, of course, you don’t.


On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Edmund Husserl and Yip Harburg.

READ MORE about members of the Anti-Anti-Utopian generation (1934-43).



Lynn Peril is the author of Swimming in the Steno Pool: A Retro Guide to Making It in the Office. She lives in Oakland, California.