Fashion Icon Vivienne Westwood Has Died At 81

British fashion icon Vivienne Westwood died on 29 December, her eponymous fashion label announced. She was 81.

“Vivienne Westwood died today, peacefully and surrounded by her family, in Clapham, South London. The world needs people like Vivienne to make a change for the better,” the fashion label said on Twitter.

Westwood was known for her rebellious political activism on the runway and taking punk to greater heights by fusing fashion with music.

Born Vivienne Isabel Swire on 8 April 1941 in the village of Tintwistle in northern England, she studied jewellery in London but soon dropped out. Her first marriage was to factory worker Derek Westwood, with whom she had a son.

In 1992, she married Andreas Kronthaler who was her former student and 25 years younger.


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Tributes pour in for Vivienne Westwood

Westwood fashion
Image credit: Rough Trade/@RoughTrade/Twitter

Her family, several prominent personalities as well as institutions paid their respects upon her passing.

“I will continue with Vivienne in my heart. We have been working until the end and she has given me plenty of things to get on with. Thank you darling,” Kronthaler, who was also her creative partner, said in a statement.

“We are saddened to learn about the passing of legendary designer Vivienne Westwood. A true revolutionary and rebellious force in fashion,” London’s Victoria and Albert Musuem, were some of her works are housed, said in a tweet.

“A sad day, Vivienne Westwood was and will remain a towering figure in British fashion. Her punk style rewrote the rule book in the 1970s, and was widely admired for how she stayed true to her own values throughout her life,” Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan wrote in a tribute to Westwood.

“you did it first. always. incredible style with brilliant and meaningful substance…You never failed to surprise and to shock. I am grateful for the moments I got to share with you and Andreas,” wrote American designer Marc Jacobs on Instagram.


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The rise of the fashion doyenne

Some years after leaving Derek Westwood, Vivienne Westwood met Malcolm McClaren, manager of the Sex Pistols. Together they opened a clothing store named Let It Rock on London’s King’s Road, which gave birth to her punk movement.

Westwood held her first major fashion show, Pirate Collection, in 1981. Her creations focussed on British and French history in particular, and presented them in more a modern setting.

She became famous for her androgynous designs, activism, T-shirts with slogans, and an anti-establishment attitude. She openly raised political and social issues, including climate change and freedom for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, on the catwalk.

By the 2000s, Westwood was a major name in the world of fashion. She dressed not only the elites but also created unforgettable dresses for fictional characters, such as Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City and Miss Piggy.

In 2006, Westwood was made a Dame for services to fashion.

(Main image: George FKN StroumbouloPHÒulos/@strombo/Twitter; Featured image: Vivienne Westwood/@FollowWestwood/Twitter)

This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Bangkok