Dame Vivienne Westwood, the revolutionary British vogue designer who played a essential function in the punk motion, has died in London at the age of 81.
Westwood died “peacefully, surrounded by her family” in Clapham, south London, on Thursday, her reps stated in a statement. She experienced continued to do the points she liked, such as building, functioning on her ebook and creating artwork, “up right up until the very last moment”, they extra.
Her spouse and inventive spouse, Andreas Kronthaler, claimed: “I will proceed with Vivienne in my heart. We have been working until finally the finish and she has provided me lots of issues to get on with. Thank you darling.”
Born in the Derbyshire village of Tintwistle in 1941, Westwood’s household moved to London in 1957, the place she attended art faculty for just one expression. A self-taught designer with no formal style instruction, Westwood realized how to make dresses as a teen by following designs and by having apart secondhand clothes she found at marketplaces in get to fully grasp the lower and construction.
She met the band manager Malcolm McLaren in the 1960s when operating as a principal university teacher soon after separating from her initial partner, Derek Westwood. The pair opened a smaller shop on Kings Highway in Chelsea in 1971 that turned a haunt of numerous of the bands she outfitted, including the Intercourse Pistols, who ended up managed by McLaren.
Her provocative and in some cases controversial models came to determine the punk aesthetic, and Westwood would come to be a single of Britain’s most celebrated manner designers, mixing historic references, typical tailoring and passionate flourishes with harder edged and occasionally overtly political messages.
Westwood and McLaren’s store transformed its identify and target several periods, which includes rebranding as Intercourse, – the pair were being fined in 1975 for an “indecent exhibition” there – as nicely as Worlds Conclusion and Seditionaries.
Westwood’s initially catwalk present, in 1981, for her Pirates collection, was an essential phase in the punk rebel becoming 1 of the trend world’s most celebrated stars. But she continue to found ways to shock: her Statue of Liberty corset in 1987 is credited as starting up the “underwear as outerwear” pattern.
Even as Westwood’s layout empire grew into a multimillion-pound enterprise, the designer under no circumstances missing her activist streak. In 1989 she posed for the cover of Tatler journal dressed as Margaret Thatcher, in excess of a caption that study: “This woman was when a punk”. She later instructed Dazed Electronic that “the fit I wore had been purchased by Margaret Thatcher from Aquascutum, but she had then cancelled it”.
Since her earliest punk times, Westwood remixed and inverted imagery drawn from the British monarchy. When she was granted an Get of the British Empire medal in 1992, the designer acknowledged the honour from Queen Elizabeth II though sporting a sober grey skirt suit. Outside Buckingham Palace, she gave a twirl to ready photographers, revealing to all the environment that she experienced worn no knickers.
Westwood was invited back in 2006 to obtain the even extra auspicious designation of Dame Commander of the British Empire.
In the mid 2000s, Westwood turned her political target toward the climate crisis. In 2007, she published a manifesto titled Lively Resistance to Propaganda, in which she wrote: “We have a alternative: to develop into more cultivated, and hence much more human – or by not picking, to be the destructive and self-destroying animal, the victim of our have cleverness (To be or not to be).”
As an anti-consumerist, Westwood gleefully undermined her personal company pursuits. In 2010, she instructed AAP: “I just tell folks, prevent acquiring clothing. Why not guard this present of lifestyle whilst we have it? I do not choose the mind-set that destruction is unavoidable. Some of us would like to halt that and aid persons survive.”
In 2015, she drove a tank to the then key minister David Cameron’s dwelling in Oxfordshire, in a protest in opposition to fracking. As a vegetarian, Westwood lobbied the British government to ban the retail sale of fur alongside other top designers which include Stella McCartney.
She was also an outspoken supporter of Julian Assange. In 2020, she suspended herself in a birdcage to protest in opposition to the WikiLeaks founder’s extradition from the United kingdom. In 2022 she developed the match and dress worn by Assange and his wife, Stella Moris, at their wedding.
Up right until the close, Westwood wrote frequently on difficulties of weather and social justice on her internet site No Man’s Land. Very last thirty day period she designed a statement of help for the climate protesters who threw soup on Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, writing: “Young persons are desperate. They are wearing a T-shirt that claims: Just Prevent Oil. They’re doing something.”
Tributes have poured in for the designer. “Vivienne is absent and the globe is presently a fewer appealing put. Like you Viv,” tweeted Chrissie Hynde, the frontwoman of the Pretenders and a former worker at the couple’s retail store.
The American fashion designer Marc Jacobs reported he was “heartbroken”, composing in a article on Instagram: “You did it to start with. Generally. Extraordinary type with good and significant compound. I carry on to study from your phrases, and, all of your incredible creations. I will constantly don’t forget the night time we bonded about our mutual really like for Yves Saint Laurent.
“You by no means unsuccessful to surprise and to shock. I am grateful for the moments I bought to share with you and Andreas. Relaxation in Peace dear Vivienne, though, somehow peace seems like the improper phrase.”
The model Karen Elson, who often collaborated with the designer, wrote on Instagram: “She tore apart notions of femininity, intercourse, and was a single of the initial to need that vogue do far better in regards to the climate and devoid of a question was 1 of the most simply unique men and women I’ve ever satisfied. Vogue, art, lifestyle will mourn this decline of a gargantuan lady who shaped how we wear and what we wore.”
Manner commentator Derek Blasberg wrote that whilst textbooks may possibly bear in mind Westwood for “ushering in London’s counterculture scene to large manner … I feel she’d want to be remembered most for her advocacy, precisely [concerning] world-wide warming … Her existence was intense, relentless and fabulous. A overall primary.”
Westwood is survived by Kronthaler, who is her 2nd spouse, and her two sons, trend photographer Ben Westwood, her son with Derek Westwood, and her son with McLaren, Joe Corré, who co-launched the lingerie corporation Agent Provocateur.