Godmother of Punk back at London Fashion Week

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The Independent Online

She has been accused of morphing from punk priestess to arch conservative, and her recent excursions into political pamphleteering have met with little success. But, after a nine-year absence, Dame Vivienne Westwood is about to return to what she does best.

The "Godmother of Punk" plans an audacious return to the London catwalk, displaying her Red Label womenswear collection for autumn and winter 2008 at the next London Fashion Week.

"We are back by popular demand", said the doyenne of British avant-garde designers, who was accused of migrating from rebel to reactionary when she accepted an Honour last year.

"The sales of all of our lines are increasing and we decided that the Red Label, which is successful worldwide and also so popular in the UK, should have its own show."

Dame Vivienne's return is the latest in a string of high-profile English designers coming back to their spiritual and sartorial home at London Fashion Week. Two of the fashion industry's biggest names, Matthew Williamson and Luella Bartley, both returned to the event when it was staged in September.

Dame Vivienne came to national and then international fame in the 1970s when she partnered former Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren in opening the shop Let it Rock at 430 King's Road, Chelsea.

In 1974 the shop changed its name to Sex and when, two years later, the Sex Pistols played their first gig in Manchester, their outfits were supplied by Dame Vivienne's shop. It promptly became a focal point in the emergence of the Punk movement. In 1982 Dame Vivienne became the first British designer to showcase her material in Paris since Mary Quant in the 1960s. She will continue to show her demi-couture Gold Label in Paris next year, and her men's collection, known as Man, will also continue showing in Milan.

The designer's legendary melange of British tailoring and French chic, with its nod to her formative influences from the Fifties, earned her the nickname of the Queen of British Fashion. Made a dame in 2006 for "service to fashion", she has devoted much of her time in recent years to political campaigning.

In 2005 she teamed up with the pressure group Liberty in launching a limited range of 50 baby T-shirts carrying the slogan "I am not a terrorist, please don't arrest me". Her "Active Resistance to Propaganda" pamphlet, released earlier this year, was ungraciously received by many critics.

Dame Vivienne's collection will be shown in February 2008.

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