Vivienne Westwood dies: Fashion designer, punk icon was 81

Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, recognized for popularizing British punk and new wave vogue, died Thursday at age 81.

“Vivienne Westwood died today, peacefully and surrounded by her family, in Clapham, South London,” mentioned a statement from her vogue home. “Vivienne continued to do the things she loved, up until the last moment, designing, working on her art, writing her book, and changing the world for the better.”

Andreas Kronthaler, Westwood’s husband and longtime inventive accomplice, mentioned they’d “been working until the end and she has given me plenty of things to get on with,” and thanked her.

A significant icon within the early British punk scene of the Seventies, Westwood went on to take pleasure in an extended profession highlighted by a string of triumphant runway reveals in London, Paris, Milan and New York. Westwood’s work, which was typically marked by her antiestablishment values, adorned the our bodies of quite a few celebrities, these on the crimson carpets of Hollywood in addition to these within the British royal household.

In a 2018 evaluation of a Westwood documentary, The Instances’ Kenneth Turan described her as “a woman of formidable energy and drive whether she is tearing apart one of her own fashion collections the night before her show or passionately advocating for environmental issues.”

Westwood was born Vivienne Isabel Swire to a working-class household; her father labored at an plane manufacturing unit, and her mom’s household made their dwelling as weavers and cotton spinners. Within the late Fifties, Westwood enrolled within the Harrow Faculty of Artwork however dropped out after the primary time period.

“I didn’t know how a working-class girl like me could possibly make a living in the art world,” she mentioned. These blue-collar roots would inform her radical method to city road fashion, which might take the style world by storm.

Vivienne Westwood at her spring 2011 present in London.

(Rune Hellestad / Corbis through Getty Pictures)

Within the late Sixties, whereas making a dwelling as a major college trainer and designing and promoting her personal jewellery on the facet, Westwood met Intercourse Pistols supervisor Malcolm McLaren, with whom she would later have a son.

They believed that, collectively, they may wage a social revolution by vogue and rock, and opened their Let It Rock store on London’s King’s Street within the early Seventies. It grew to become a gathering spot for the punk scene and England’s counterculture. The shop was later renamed Intercourse, a symbolic center finger to the institution that prosecuted them underneath British obscenity legal guidelines for making shirts with pornographic photographs.

Through the Nineteen Eighties, even whereas she loved mainstream success, Westwood’s work continued to show an antiestablishment aptitude. She famously posed for a Tatler journal cowl in 1989 as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, styled in a swimsuit that Thatcher herself had ordered however later canceled. In her 2016 guide, “Get a Life,” Westwood wrote in regards to the controversial journal cowl, criticizing Thatcher’s conservative financial insurance policies and involvement within the oil trade and its function in local weather change.

“You need heart and head to have vision and that’s why I call her a hypocrite: she did not care and used her status as a woman to pretend she did,” Westwood wrote.

The title Westwood grew to become synonymous with fashion and angle whilst she shifted focus from yr to yr. Her vary was huge, and her work was by no means predictable.

As her stature grew, she appeared to transcend vogue, along with her designs proven in museum collections around the globe. The younger lady who had scorned the British institution finally grew to become one in every of its main lights, and she or he used her elite place to foyer for environmental reforms, whilst she stored her hair dyed the brilliant shade of orange that grew to become her trademark.

“She was always trying to reinvent fashion,” Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute on the Metropolitan Museum of Artwork in New York informed the Related Press. “Her work is provocative, it’s transgressive. It’s very much rooted in the English tradition of pastiche and irony and satire. She is very proud of her Englishness, and still she sends it up.”

Westwood as a model additionally expanded, opening shops all through Europe and Asia. In 2011, her first U.S. storefront opened in Los Angeles on Melrose Avenue to a loud, star-studded response.

In her later years, Westwood appeared to tire of the clamor and the excitement round her work and held a extra grounded view of the punk motion. In a 2000 interview with The Instances, she known as punk “a heroic attempt at confronting the establishment … but ultimately it failed.”

“The establishment is a car going 100 miles an hour,” she mentioned. “You can throw blips at it and try to stop it, but you won’t bring it to a halt. It will only go faster with your energy.”

Even so, Westwood remained politically vocal within the ultimate many years of her life. She was a staunch supporter of imprisoned journalist Julian Assange and lengthy criticized the function of capitalism and its contributions to the local weather disaster. She was conscious of the style trade’s function throughout the disaster, resulting in extra sustainable manufacturing of her garments. She additionally known as on shoppers to purchase much less, even of the garments she designed.

The Related Press contributed to this report.