Vivienne Westwood, a British designer whose punk and new-wave-inspired clothing made her a fashion legend, passed away on Thursday. She had been around for 81 years. She passed away quietly, surrounded by family, Westwood’s eponymous fashion label said in a social media announcement. The cause of death wasn’t made public.
The fashion brand stated on Twitter that “the world needs people like Vivienne to make a change for the better.”
A representative of Westwood has been contacted by the associated channel for a reaction.
When Westwood’s avant-garde take on urban street style first swept the globe by storm during the punk explosion of the 1970s, her career in fashion officially began. However, she went on to have a long and successful career, which was highlighted by several triumphant runway presentations in London, Paris, Milan, and New York.
Even as she changed her focus from year to year, the name Westwood came to represent fashion and attitude. Her skill set was broad, yet her output was never consistent. Before being married to Derek Westwood in 1962, Westwood, who was born on April 8th, 1941 in Glossop, England, worked as a teacher. 1965 saw the couple’s divorce.
In 1965, Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, who rose to fame as the manager of the punk music group the Sex Pistols, partnered professionally. They ran Let It Rock, a thrift store that offered rock memorabilia from McLaren’s collection and antique apparel from the 1950s. Later, they founded Seditionaries, a boutique.
Self-taught designer Westwood also created apparel based on McLaren’s concepts, including distressed T-shirts splashed with “shocking antiestablishment phrases and imagery” and bondage pants influenced by sadomasochistic aesthetics. Later, Westwood went it alone as a fashion designer, operating some boutiques and creating yearly menswear and womenswear collections. She also created bridal gowns, shoes, cosmetics, and fragrances.
Although Westwood’s designs had a subversive edge, she frequently took inspiration from the past, including vintage British clothing and the classical works of art by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, François Boucher, and Thomas Gainsborough. Her 1981 catwalk show’s Pirates collection, which included this retro-modern design aesthetic, was on display.
Her runway fashion presentations were usually the most stylish occasions, attracting celebrities from the glamorous worlds of film, music, and television. Westwood, however, spoke out against conspicuous
consumption and commercialization, even pleading with people not to purchase her pricey, exquisitely crafted clothing.
Westwood only advised people to quit purchasing clothing. “Why not safeguard this gift of life while we still possess it? I don’t believe that destruction is inescapable. Some of us want to put a stop to that and assist those in need.”
Despite her contempt for commercialization, Westwood’s striking aesthetic became popular in and of itself. Famously, Rihanna wore a black silk taffeta corset to the 2011 Victoria’s Secret fashion show, while Sarah Jessica Parker made headlines in 2008’s “Sex and the City” wearing a Westwood wedding gown as Carrie Bradshaw. While most designers of her era failed to appeal to members of Generation Z, Westwood’s dedication to her punk roots and activism helped her creations acquire a following with younger consumers.
Numerous influencers were captivated by the Westwood triple pearl choker’s combination of traditional elegance with punk cool, earning it the moniker “TikTok necklace.” The choker is set with the house’s orb insignia.
In her native England, Westwood received recognition for her artistic accomplishments when she was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1992 and Dame Commander in 2006. Westwood didn’t wear panties while visiting Buckingham Palace in 1992 to accept her medal, and she posed for photos in a way that was very evident to show that.
Her designs were displayed in museum collections around the globe as her stature rose, giving the impression that she was above trend. The young lady who had rejected the British establishment later rose to become one of its most prominent figures, and she used her position of power to advocate for environmental change while continuing to color her hair the vivid orange that would become her signature.
She is survived by her two sons, businessman Joe Corré and fashion photographer Ben Westwood, as well as her second husband, Austrian-born Andreas Kronthaler.