Vivienne Westwood


‘We were always very attracted to each other.’

Vivienne Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler on 30 years of the work/life/love balance.

By Alexander Fury
Photographs by Juergen Teller

Slightly less than 24 hours before their latest catwalk show, fashion designers Vivienne Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler were holed up in an uncharacteristically contemporary building beside their Paris boutique. They were making fashion. Not clothes – the clothes were made, mostly anyway. There were rubber dresses and tweed suits and ball gowns and corsets and platform shoes, quotes from an aesthetic vernacular established by Westwood over almost a half-century of work, almost 30 years of which have been spent alongside Kronthaler.Their latest models were complete, bar a few tweaks, changes and alterations to make sure they fitted in the exact way required for the presentation – which may be normal, distorted or twisted on the body, falling off or rolling down. The final outfits were coming together organically, as lace and taffeta and leopard-print fake-fur garments were interchanged to arresting or amusing effect. Journalists are normally never permitted to watch this period of the creative process at Westwood. It’s a rare privilege – and I was very much an interloper. I stayed out of the way. Westwood stood on the sidelines, watching intently, the process mostly handled by 52-year-old Andreas Kronthaler and stylist Sabina Schreder, who studied alongside each other at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. That was also where Westwood met Kronthaler in 1989. She was a guest professor of fashion; Kronthaler, a 23-year-old from the Austrian Tyrol, was in his first year. Their age difference of 25 years was much commented on when Kronthaler and Westwood’s relationship came to wide public attention following their discreet marriage in May 1992. (Westwood’s own mother only found out about it in 1993 from newspaper articles.) There is less note paid of it today – now Westwood is 77 – than when they were in their 50s and 30s. Yet theirs remains an unusual partnership, in every sense of the term.

Read the full story of their romantic and professional life together in System No. 11. Click to buy.