Vivienne Westwood, Famed British Fashion Designer, Dies at 81

Vivienne Westwood, famed British fashion designer who helped give rise to the punk and new wave fashion movements, has died at the age of 81, according to an official statement posted on her Twitter page.

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

Westwood first became known in the 70s for her partnership with artist and songwriter Malcolm McLaren, designing punk fashion at their King’s Road boutique SEX that came to define the visual look of the movement. Her designs were soon worn by the famed band The Sex Pistols, who were managed by McLaren.

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In Hollywood, a wedding dress designed by Westwood became a prominent part of the 2008 film adaptation of the HBO series “Sex and the City,” as it was worn by Sarah Jessica Parker as her character, Carrie Bradshaw, got married to Mr. Big, played by Chris Noth.

Westwood was also behind one of the most famous looks worn by pop star Pharrell when he wore a Buffalo hat made by the designer in 1982 to the 2014 Grammy Awards. The hat became a viral sensation, even prompting the creation of a parody Twitter account.

Outside of fashion, Westwood was known for being an activist in British politics, particularly around nuclear disarmament, climate change, and protection of government whistleblowers. In the early 2010s, she supported Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and American document leaker Chelsea Manning, demanding their release from custody.

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In the tweet announcing her death, a quote was included from Westwood espousing her belief in Taoist philosophy.

“There was never more need for the Tao today,” she said. “Tao gives you a feeling that you belong to the cosmos and gives purpose to your life; it gives you such a sense of identity and strength to know you’re living the life you can live and therefore ought to be living: make full use of your character and full use of your life on earth.”