Dame Vivienne Westwood, legendary fashion designer, dies at the age of 81

Vivienne Westwood – Philip Hollis

Dame Vivienne Westwood has died at the age of 81.

The pioneering British designer made a name for herself as the queen of punk in the 1970s, with her androgynous designs, slogan tees and irreverent attitude towards the establishment.

Dame Vivienne died Thursday “peacefully and surrounded by her family in Clapham, south London,” her representatives said.

In a statement, her husband and creative partner Andreas Kronthaler said: “I will continue with Vivienne in my heart.

“We worked our way through to the end and she’s given me a lot to go on with. Thanks honey.”

Her representatives’ statement added: “Vivienne continued to do the things she loved, right up to the very last moment, designing, working on her art, writing her book and changing the world for the better.

“He led an extraordinary life. His innovation and impact over the past 60 years has been immense and will continue into the future.”

He also said that the Vivienne Foundation, a non-profit company founded by Dame Vivienne, her children and granddaughter in late 2022, will launch next year to “honour, protect and continue the legacy of life, design and of Vivienne’s activism”.

Dame Vivienne, born in Cheshire in 1941, is widely recognized for bringing punk and new wave fashion into the mainstream with her eccentric creations.

Vivienne Westwood - NIKLAS HALLEN/AFP/Getty Images

Vivienne Westwood – NIKLAS HALLEN/AFP/Getty Images

His designs have been regularly worn by high-profile celebrities including Dita Von Teese, who wore a purple Westwood wedding dress to marry Marilyn Manson, and Princess Eugenie, who wore three Westwood designs for various elements of William’s wedding. and Kate Middleton.

Dame Vivienne’s designs are also featured in the 2008 film adaptation of Sex And The City, starring Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw.

In addition to her work as a stylist, Dame Vivienne has spoken out in support of a number of social and political initiatives, including campaigning for the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is fighting to avoid being sent to the US to deal with charges under the Espionage Act.

In July 2020, she sounded a warning about an Assange “stitching” while dressed in canary yellow in a giant birdcage.

Dame Vivienne told Vogue magazine that her political convictions took root at school, when her teacher “spoke with pride of civilization and democracy” and “aversion to arbitrary arrests”, such as the one perpetrated by the French monarchy which “causes the storming of the Bastille”.

During London Fashion Week in 2012, she appeared on the runway herself, wrapped in a banner reading “climate revolution”.

Later that year, attending a reception at St James’s Palace to launch a new exhibition of British menswear at an event hosted by the then Prince of Wales, Dame Vivienne said much of her respect for the royal family was due to Charles.

She said: “I’m a huge Queen fan, I think she’s wonderful and everyone else is leaning towards that opinion.

“But I think a lot of my respect for royalty is based on Prince Charles – he’s done far better things for the country than any British politician.”

Dame Vivienne Westwood photographed after investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in 2006 - Fiona Hanson /AP

Dame Vivienne Westwood photographed after investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in 2006 – Fiona Hanson /AP

As the self-styled queen of punk, she has always injected controversy into the fashion industry with her risque creations.

The designer was largely responsible for anti-establishment punk fashion and became known for her subversive and eccentric take on traditional British style.

She and Malcolm McLaren, onetime manager of the punk band Sex Pistols, opened a shop called ‘Let It Rock’, later renamed ‘Sex’, in the early 1970s where she began selling her provocative outfits.

Punk style included bondage gear, safety pins, razor blades, bicycle or toilet chains, and spiked dog collars.

Dame Vivienne caused a stir in 1992 when she withdrew her OBE from the Queen, wearing no underwear, and turned to the courtyard to reveal all.

In 2006, when she was made a Dame, she again decided not to wear knickers and went to Buckingham Palace wearing a pair of silver horns.

Dame Vivienne Westwood with Kate Moss in 2009 - Fiona Hanson/PA

Dame Vivienne Westwood with Kate Moss in 2009 – Fiona Hanson/PA

Some of her best-known creations include Mini Crines, bustle skirts, bondage pants, and 12-inch platform shoes, the kind that famously tripped supermodel Naomi Campbell.

He developed the idea of ​​underwear as outerwear — and Madonna’s legendary conical bra worn on her Blonde Ambition tour, designed by Jean Paul Gaultier, probably never would have happened if it weren’t for Westwood.

He also reconceived the corset from a symbol of female repression to a symbol of sexual power and freedom.

After becoming a primary school teacher, she quit her job to become a punk fashion seamstress and set up her own shop on Chelsea’s Kings Road with her then-partner McLaren.

The Sex Pistols wore the shop’s clothes for their first concert and Westwood’s first runway show was shown at London’s Olympia on March 1st.

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