Vivienne Westwood, influential fashion maverick, dies at 81

LONDON (AP) — Vivienne Westwood, an influential trend maverick who performed a vital purpose in the punk movement, died Thursday at 81.

Westwood’s eponymous vogue residence announced her loss of life on social media platforms, declaring she died peacefully. A cause was not disclosed.

“Vivienne ongoing to do the things she cherished, up till the final instant, building, operating on her art, composing her e-book, and modifying the earth for the better,” the assertion claimed.

Westwood’s vogue occupation started in the 1970s when her radical method to city street model took the planet by storm. But she went on to delight in a very long job highlighted by a string of triumphant runway displays and museum exhibitions.

The identify Westwood turned synonymous with fashion and angle even as she shifted concentration from year to yr, her array broad and her operate hardly ever predictable.

As her stature grew, she appeared to transcend style. The young girl who experienced scorned the British institution finally turned a single of its top lights, even as she stored her hair dyed that trademark vivid shade of orange.

Andrew Bolton, curator of The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of New York, explained Westwood and Intercourse Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren — her onetime associates — “gave the punk movement a glimpse, a design and style, and it was so radical it broke from nearly anything in the past.”

“The ripped shirts, the basic safety pins, the provocative slogans,” Bolton explained. “She launched postmodernism. It was so influential from the mid-70s. The punk motion has never ever dissipated — it is develop into component of our vogue vocabulary. It’s mainstream now.”

Westwood’s extended occupation was entire of contradictions: She was a lifelong rebel honored a number of moments by Queen Elizabeth II. She dressed like a teenager even in her 60s and became an outspoken advocate of preventing local climate change, warning of planetary doom.

In her punk days, Westwood’s outfits were being typically deliberately surprising: T-shirts embellished with drawings of bare boys and “bondage pants” with sadomasochistic overtones have been common fare in her well known London stores. But Westwood was equipped to changeover from punk to haute couture without the need of lacking a conquer, trying to keep her occupation likely devoid of stooping to self-caricature.

“She was generally attempting to reinvent trend. Her operate is provocative, it’s transgressive. It’s extremely substantially rooted in the English custom of pastiche and irony and satire. She is really proud of her Englishness, and however she sends it up,” Bolton explained.

One of people contentious patterns featured a swastika, an inverted picture of Jesus Christ on the cross and the term “Destroy.” In an autobiography composed with Ian Kelly, she reported it was meant as aspect of a statement against politicians torturing persons, citing Chile’s Augusto Pinochet. When asked if she regretted the swastika in a 2009 job interview with Time journal, Westwood reported no.

“I do not, since we had been just indicating to the more mature generation, ‘We never settle for your values or your taboos, and you are all fascists,’” she responded.

She approached her perform with gusto in her early yrs, but later on appeared to tire of the clamor and buzz. Following a long time of coming up with, she from time to time spoke wistfully of moving further than fashion so she could concentrate on environmental issues and educational initiatives.

“Fashion can be so unexciting,” she informed The Associated Push following unveiling 1 of her new collections at a 2010 exhibit. “I’m making an attempt to uncover some thing else to do.”

Her runway reveals were constantly the most stylish situations, drawing stars from the glittery world of movie, audio, and tv who preferred to bask in Westwood’s mirrored glory. But still she spoke out versus consumerism and conspicuous consumption, even urging men and women not to buy her pricey, fantastically designed clothing.

“I just inform folks, prevent shopping for dresses,” she mentioned. “Why not defend this reward of lifetime although we have it? I do not take the mindset that destruction is unavoidable. Some of us would like to halt that and assist persons endure.”

Westwood’s activism prolonged to supporting Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, posing in a giant birdcage in 2020 to try out to halt his extradition to the U.S. She even designed the costume Stella Moris wore when she married Assange this earlier March at a London prison.

Westwood was self-taught, with no formal style education. She explained to Marie Claire magazine that she realized how to make her have outfits as a teenager by following patterns. When she wanted to provide 1950s-model apparel at her 1st shop, she discovered previous outfits in markets and took them apart to realize the lower and development.

Westwood was born in the Derbyshire village of Glossop on April 8, 1941. Her family members moved to London in 1957 and she attended artwork school for a person time period.

She satisfied McLaren in the 1960s though performing as a most important college teacher just after separating from her initially husband, Derek Westwood. She and McLaren opened a tiny store in Chelsea in 1971, the tail end of the “Swinging London” period ushered in by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

The store modified its title and emphasis numerous moments, running as “SEX” — Westwood and McLaren were being fined in 1975 for an “indecent exhibition” there — and “World’s End” and “Seditionaries.”

Amid the workers at their store was Sexual intercourse Pistols bassist Glen Matlock, who identified as Westwood “a a single off, pushed, solitary minded, talented lady” in a assertion to The Linked Press.

He explained it was a privilege “to have rubbed shoulders with her in the mid ’70s at what was the beginning of punk and the throughout the world waves it designed that nevertheless continue on to echo and resound today for the disaffected, hipper and wised up all-around the globe.”

“Vivienne is long gone and the earth is previously a much less exciting area,” tweeted Chrissie Hynde, the frontwoman of the Pretenders and another previous staff.

Westwood moved into a fresh new kind of developing with her “Pirates” selection, exhibited in her to start with catwalk show in 1981. That breakthrough is credited with taking Westwood in a far more regular route, displaying her interest in incorporating historical British layouts into modern dresses.

It was also an important stage in an ongoing rapprochement between Westwood and the fashion world. The rebel at some point became one particular of its most celebrated stars, identified for reinterpreting opulent dresses from the past and usually obtaining inspiration in 18th century paintings.

But she even now found strategies to shock: Her Statue of Liberty corset in 1987 is remembered as the begin of “underwear as outerwear” development.

She eventually branched out into a selection of enterprise routines, which include an alliance with Italian designer Giorgio Armani, and made her ready-to-put on Pink Label line, her much more special Gold Label line, a menswear selection and fragrances identified as Boudoir and Libertine. Westwood outlets opened in New York, Hong Kong, Milan and various other key towns.

She was named designer of the yr by the British Manner Council in 1990 and 1991.

Her uneasy marriage with the British institution is probably best exemplified by her 1992 trip to Buckingham Palace to acquire an Order of the British Empire medal: She wore no underwear, and posed for photographers in a way that made that abundantly apparent.

Apparently the queen was not offended: Westwood was invited again to obtain the even extra auspicious designation of Dame Commander of the British Empire — the female equal of a knighthood — in 2006.

Westwood is survived by her second partner, the Austrian-born designer Andreas Kronthaler who experienced a manner line under her brand, and two sons.

The first, fashion photographer Ben Westwood, was her son with Derek Westwood. The 2nd, Joe Corre — her son with McLaren — co-established the upscale Agent Provocateur lingerie line and once burned what he claimed was a collection of punk memorabilia worth millions: “Punk was hardly ever, never ever intended to be nostalgic,” he said.


Katz, a longtime correspondent for The Associated Press who died in 2020, was the principal writer of this obituary. AP journalist Nardos Haile contributed to this report from New York.

Graphic credits: Fiona Hanson, Pool through AP