Leading fashion designer Vivienne Westwood in Prague for retrospective show

Vivienne Westwood, photo: CTK

The punk rock band The Sex Pistols outraged many in 1970s Britain with their foul language and obnoxious behaviour. Their clothing - held together with safety pins, often adorned with offensive images and slogans and sometimes simply adapted bondage wear - was also controversial. It was made by Vivienne Westwood, who is now one of the world's most respected fashion designers. In Prague for a show on Wednesday night, she recalled the impact of her punk clothing.

Vivienne Westwood, photo: CTK
"Essentially what I did, together with my partner at the time Malcolm McLaren, was to take sex shop clothes and made them day-wear, rubber-wear skirts for the office etc. And this was in a hippy time.

"I think it would very difficult today to take anything that hadn't been taken before - I think everything's been sort of taken from street fashion now, but that had an incredible impact. And part of all that was all this bondage and all this ripped stuff."

Thirty years later Vivienne Westwood is no longer advocating anarchy. In fact she's now Dame Vivienne Westwood, and has often referenced history and classical painting in her designs. She believes we'd all be better off having far more respect for tradition.

"You get out of things what you put into them, and the only way to get anything out of the world we live in is to study the past, not to just reject it wholesale, but to find out what in it is important.

"It gives you a perspective on the world in which you live, and if you throw out the past you throw out the baby with the bathwater and you have nothing left - you don't have any technique, you have no models of excellence, and all you've got is, me me me."

On the issue of fashions in Prague, Dame Vivienne said they seemed to be completely the same as everywhere else. As you might imagine, she's no fan of cheap and cheerful high street styles.

"In general the way that women dress is really, really awful. It's just a terrible shame that people want to look this mess. I think the trouble is that people want to be sexy, and they want to be sexy for absolutely everybody, from the construction worker to the bank manager. I don't want to be sexy to everybody, not at all. There's a whole load of people I'm not interested in attracting.

"I think that somehow you just spread yourself so thin that you just look so...nothing. It's incredible how pretty women - the prettiest look the worst, usually."

Vivienne Westwood is in Prague for a retrospective of her work, which is being called the event of the year in Czech fashion. It takes place at Prague Castle's Spanish Hall on Wednesday night.