Westwood was born Vivienne Isabel Swire in the village of Tintwistle Cheshire on 8 April 1941,
the daughter of Gordon Swire and Dora Swire (nee Ball), who had married two years previously,
two weeks after the outbreak of World War II. At the time of Vivienne’s birth, her father was
employed as a storekeeper in an aircraft factory; he had previously worked as a greengrocer.
She attended Glossop Grammar School. In 1958, her family moved to Harrow, London. She studied
silver-smithing at Harrow School of Art, but left after one term, saying later, “I didn’t know
how a working-class girl like me could possibly make a living in the art world”. After taking up
a job in a factory and studying at a teacher-training college, she became a primary school teacher.
During this period, she created her own jewellery, which she sold at a stall on Portobello Road.
While she continued teaching and simultaneously making jewelry, this led to her discovering design
when she met Malcom McLaren who became a major inspiration to her designs in Punk Fashion.
In 1962, she met Derek Westwood, a Hoover factory apprentice, in Harrow. They married on 21 July 1962; Westwood made her own wedding dress. In 1963, she gave birth to a son, Benjamin Westwood