London Fashion Designers

Reading Exercise

Read the text and choose the correct answer A, B or C for each question.
There are times in the history of any great city when it feels that it’s at the centre of all that’s fashionable. Though it was depressing and old-fashioned in the fifties, and a bit scruffy at the edges for most of the seventies, London led the world of fashion during the ‘swinging’ years of the sixties and during the punk revolution at the end of the seventies. Showing the way were its fashion designers, notably Mary Quant and Vivienne Westwood.

Mary Quant
Mary Quant left Goldsmith College, London, in the early fifties with very clear ideas of what she wanted to achieve in the world of fashion. She was fed up with the idea that high fashion should be for the rich and the middle-aged, and thought that it should be fun and liberating. She started making clothes designed around simple shapes and patterns, and bright colours.
Mary had been lucky enough to meet and marry a wealthy businessman called Alexander Plunket Green while she was at college, and it was his investment that allowed her to open a shop soon after finishing her studies. Mary opened a boutique in the King’s Road, Chelsea, in the centre of London. The year was 1955. It was an immediate success, thanks to her innovative designs, comparatively low prices, and eccentric window displays, which made the clothes look even more stylish.
By the mid sixties, Mary Quant was a household name, and a fashion leader of sorts. She had popularized, some people would say invented, the mini skirt, which was arguably the most iconic fashion statement of the sixties, and she had done more than anyone to make clothes youthful, sexy, and natural.

Vivienne Westwood
In 1971, Vivienne Westwood’s partner, and the father of her son Joseph, opened a shop in the King’s Road called Let it Rock. His name was Malcolm Maclaren. Vivienne, who had briefly studied at the Harrow School of Art in London, then started to sell her designs in the shop. They weren’t ordinary clothes, nor were they inexpensive. She combined traditional British materials such as tartan with more outrageous items like black leather, metal chains, large safety pins, razor blades, and dog collars.
After years of selling to a small, alternative set of customers, Vivienne’s designs were suddenly in demand overnight after the punk rock band The Sex Pistols wore her clothes at their first gig. Perhaps they loved the style, but it is more likely that their manager, Malcolm Maclaren, influenced their choice of shop. Although probably motivated by Maclaren’s business interests, the clothes and band worked well together. The band’s anarchic energy combined with Vivienne’s sense of punk style to take the world by storm in the late seventies, rocking the foundations of the fashion world. The influence of those designs is still felt today.
In more recent years, Vivienne has introduced many other elements into her fashion design, such as ways of cutting material borrowed from eighteenth-century clothes makers, and patterns first used by indigenous South American peoples. She is always looking for the innovative and shocking, and her ready-to-wear clothes, while no longer strictly punk, are still different and edgy.