Written by Nick Glass, CNN

British designer and magnificence icon Vivienne Westwood has died aged 81. She handed away peacefully, surrounded by her household, at her residence in London on Thursday, in line with an official assertion from her eponymous firm.

To the media, she was “the excessive priestess of punk” and the “Queen of Excessive.” To the style world she was a beloved character who energized and pushed the boundaries of the trade till her demise.

She twirled sans culottes for photographers after receiving her Order of the British Empire from the Queen in 1992. In April 1989, she made the entrance cowl of Tatler journal, wearing an Aquascutum swimsuit she stated was meant for Margaret Thatcher.

Westwood, frankly, did not give a hoot. Because the oldest of ingénues with periodically orange-tinted hair and alabaster complexion, she rose disgracefully to the revered standing of British nationwide treasure.  

“I’ve an in-built perversity,” Westwood’s reported to have stated, per Jon Savage’s seminal “England’s Dreaming: The Intercourse Pistols and Punk Rock,” “a form of in-built clock which all the time reacts in opposition to something orthodox.”

See Vivienne Westwood’s iconic style designs

She was born Vivienne Isabel Swire in Derbyshire, England on April 8, 1941. Her mom labored as a weaver at native cotton mills; her father got here from a household of shoemakers. She started making garments for herself as a teen.

After a time period at Harrow Artwork Faculty, she labored as a major faculty instructor, and married a manufacturing facility employee, Derek Westwood, in 1962.

However every little thing modified when she left her husband, and met Malcolm McLaren in 1965.

“I felt as if there have been so many doorways to open, and he had the important thing to all of them,” she informed Newsweek in 2004.

It is not possible to think about Nineteen Seventies Britain with out their inventive partnership. McLaren managed the Intercourse Pistols and from a store on London’s King’s Street, Westwood helped develop a visible grammar for the punk motion.

“Intercourse Pistols” supervisor Malcolm McLaren with Vivienne Westwood exterior Bow Avenue Justice of the Peace Courtroom in London. Credit score: Invoice Kennedy/Mirrorpix/Getty Photographs

The store modified names — Let It Rock; Too Quick to Reside, Too Younger to Die; Intercourse; Seditionaries — however you could not escape its affect on the road.

“It modified the way in which individuals regarded,” Westwood informed Time journal in 2012. “I used to be messianic about punk, seeing if one might put a spoke within the system indirectly.”

Her garments ranged from fetishistic bondage gear to huge platform sneakers and slogan T-shirts. Seditionaries famously bought a t- shirt exhibiting the Queen with a security pin by the royal lip.

Westwood finally moved on. In 1981, at 40, Westwood launched her first catwalk assortment with McLaren. The gender impartial garments evoked the golden age of piracy, highwaymen, dandies and buccaneers. Westwood studied outdated tailoring methods and subverted them, an strategy later imitated by different British designers like John Galliano and Alexander McQueen.

Over the course of the last decade, Westwood drew inspiration eclectically from Keith Haring, “Blade Runner” and the French International Legion.

She launched the mini-crini (combining the tutu and Victorian crinoline), flesh-colored tights with modesty fig leaves and signature corsetry worn as outerwear; she designed frocks for girls with breasts and hips (ask Nigella Lawson or Marion Cotillard, who each wore Westwood to dramatic have an effect on); she would experiment with Harris tweed and tartan.

John Fairchild, then the omnipotent editor of Ladies’s Put on Day by day, conferred his blessing in 1989. In his view, she was one of many six most influential designers of the twentieth century, together with Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Giorgio Armani, Christian Lacroix and Emanuel Ungaro. Westwood was the one girl, the one Brit, and the one designer on his record who was not already a multi-million-dollar model. (In 1989, she was nonetheless residing in an ex-council flat in South London and was “just about bankrupt,” in line with Jane Mulvagh’s 1998 biography, “Vivienne Westwood: An Retro Life.”)

Type author Peter York summed her up in a 1990 documentary: “All of the issues that gasoline her, and all of the obsessions she builds her work round are usually British: The entire thing about class and intercourse, the actual obsession with the Queen. You could not develop these anyplace else.”

Vivienne Westwood and her husband and fellow designer Andreas Kronthaler at Paris Fashion Week in 2013.

Vivienne Westwood and her husband and fellow designer Andreas Kronthaler at Paris Vogue Week in 2013. Credit score: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Photographs

In 1992, Westwood married an Austrian design scholar, Andreas Kronthaler, 25 years her junior. They labored as co-designers, earlier than he took over her ready-to-wear line in 2016. In a press release launched with the announcement of her demise Kronthaler stated, “I’ll proceed with Vivienne in my coronary heart. Now we have been working till the top and he or she has given me loads of issues to get on with. Thanks darling.”

Tributes started pouring in Thursday night time from the style world and past. Mannequin Bella Hadid posted photographs sporting the designer’s creations on Instagram and wrote, “I’ll eternally be grateful to have been in your orbit, as a result of to me and most, in style and humanity, you, Vivienne, have been the solar.” British Vogue editor-in-chief, Edward Enninful, additionally paid tribute on his Instagram, describing the designer as “a real icon of British style and an irreplaceable pressure within the trade.” And on Twitter, singer Boy George wrote “R.I.P. to the good and provoking Vivienne Westwood who lead us by punk and past,” including, “she is the undisputed Queen of British style.”

Westwood was an outspoken advocate for the planet, typically selling high quality over amount when it got here to style consumption. For her Fall-Winter 2019/20 present at London Vogue Week, Westwood despatched fashions, actors, and activists down the runway with political indicators — one in every of which learn “What’s good for the planet is sweet for the economic system.”

The Vivienne Basis, a not-for-profit firm, based by Westwood, her sons & granddaughter in late 2022, will formally launch subsequent yr. Based on her spokespeople it can “honour, defend and proceed the legacy of Vivienne’s life, design and activism.”


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