Vivienne Westwood death: ‘Queen of British fashion’ dies aged 81

Fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood has died at the age of 81, her representatives have said.

She died peacefully surrounded by her family in Clapham, southwest London, on Thursday, a statement said.

Her husband and creative partner Andreas Kronthaler said: “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.”

The pioneering fashion designer made a name for herself on the fashion scene in the 1970s, with her androgynous designs, slogan T-shirts and irreverent attitude towards the establishment.

When awarded an OBE in 1992, Westwood wore a perfectly tailored skirt suit with a grey matching hat, but no knickers underneath. She later said: “I met a man who worked with the Queen and he said she was rather amused by it.”

She is responsible for some of fashion’s most famous designs – including her take on the corset, the “mini-crini” – a shortened version of the Victorian crinoline dress – and Carrie Bradshaw’s bridal dress in the 2008 Sex And The City film.

She marked the Silver Jubilee in 1977 by sticking pins through the Queen’s nose on T-shirts designed for her former husband Malcolm McLaren’s punk prodigies, The Sex Pistols.

Westwood at Paris Fashion Week in March 2022 (Getty)
Westwood at Paris Fashion Week in March 2022 (Getty)

Westwood also made a name for herself as an activist, staging public protests to raise awareness around causes close to her heart, including fracking and Julian Assange.

The Victoria and Albert Museum described Westwood as a “true revolutionary and rebellious force in fashion”.

A tweet said: “We are saddened to learn about the passing of legendary designer Vivienne Westwood. A true revolutionary and rebellious force in fashion.”

Singer Boy George, who first met Westwood in the early Eighties, described her as “the undisputed Queen of British fashion”.

Virgin Atlantic also remembered Dame Vivienne Westwood, tweeting: “Rest in peace Dame Vivienne Westwood. A true British icon and the visionary behind our iconic uniform design that we’ve been proudly wearing since 2014.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “Vivienne Westwood was a creative icon who helped cement the UK at the very forefront of modern fashion. My thoughts are with her family and friends.”

Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall hailed Westwood as “a true genius who never lost her northern grit”.

She recalled: “An LA stylist had sent me 3 dresses from various designers for the London/Berlin/NY premieres of a film. The clothes arrived at my London hotel unclean, were unflattering and in need of alteration. I was crestfallen until a mutual friend took me immediately to see Vivienne Westwood atelier.

“Vivienne made me a new dress in 3 days and 2 others beside for each of the upcoming openings,” she wrote. “I’ve never forgotten her generosity and kindness in making that happen and saving the day. RIP Vivienne. You are a legend. Kx.”

Along with the Mannequin star, many other celebrities went to social media to mourn Westwood, including fellow designer Victoria Beckham. On her Instagram Story, Beckham reshared the statement announcing the designer’s death and wrote: “I’m so sad to learn of the passing of legendary designer and activist Dame Vivienne Westwood. My thoughts are with her family at this incredibly sad time.”