SEX AND OTHER TOPICS

This week, Faith Roswell writes about an iconic shop from London’s fashion history.

We live in interesting times; worldwide politics are volatile, women are not coldly addressing the power balance so much as fighting it tooth and nail, we’re championing beauty in diversity, and slogan ‘protest’ shirts are back with a vengeance… and yet this has already been seen four decades ago in a tiny shop called SEX.

Vivienne Westwood is often credited as the leading architect responsible for the 70s punk look which went against everything that was popular in the mainstream. Vivienne’s shop ‘SEX’ unashamedly threw sexuality into the spotlight- before Ann Summers arrived in every town mall and boutique fetish fashion in leather and latex appeared on the couture catwalks. Employees included Chrissie Hynde and Sid Vicious, clothing included the irreverent, the revealing and the shock factor, and while trends have moved on (though Westwood clothing remains highly valued) the shop, now called ‘World’s End’ remains.

While these days our personal styles may be less jarring than those of her punk and fetish model customers, young designer Olatiwa Karade’s pro-black slogan jumpers sold out within just 24 hours last month, a few years after Vivienne’s clothing made different political issues unavoidable using not-so-subtle slogans emblazoned across her models’ chests.

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New designers tend to work around narrow ‘branding’. Vivienne’s freedom to reinvent, experiment and be controversial without fear of losing her fanbase made her- and her shop ‘SEX’- iconic. Just a few weeks ago, Vivienne told an interviewer that her secret to youth is not to wash very much.

Whether true or a hilarious counter to carefully branded ‘soundbite’ answers, Vivienne’s still fascinating people… without needing an ‘Instagram strategy’.

 

To visit the shop where a style era was born, the nearest tube stop is Fulham Broadway and the address is 430 Kings Road.

Read more from Faith at http://www.lifeoutthere.co.uk/

Image credits: FormerBBC; Manfred Werner; Wikisepia; Mark Ahsmann; Olatiwa Karade/Instagram

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