Disruptor extraordinaire

Vivienne Westwood has died aged 81
By Alex James Taylor | Fashion | 30 December 2022

Dame Vivienne Westwood has sadly passed away at the age of 81.

Westwood died “peacefully and surrounded by her family, in Clapham, South London,” said a statement. “Vivienne continued to do the things she loved, up until the last moment, designing, working on her art, writing her book, and changing the world for the better. She led an amazing life. Her innovation and impact over the last 60 years has been immense and will continue into the future.”

Her partner in life and work, 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.”

One of life’s great adventurers, disruptors and creators, Westwood was a true visionary who, alongside her then-husband Malcolm McLaren, outfitted and outlined the UK’s incendiary punk movement of the 70s from their shop, Sex, at 430 Kings Road, Chelsea, in particular the Sex Pistols who were managed by McLaren. Bondage trousers, tit t-shirts, naked cowboys, muslin tops, Buffalo hats, spikes, rips and zips – past the hippy love-in of the 60s, the youth of 70s Britain had chosen fury over flowers, and Westwood saw it coming.

Provocative, singular and meticulous in design, Westwood never stopped pushing forward and challenging the norm. Splicing, safety pinning, and sewing traditional tailoring with romantic historic references: highwaymen, dandies, pirates, buccaneers, 18th-century portraiture. Throughout, her work was defiantly imbued with passionate political messages; most prominently calling out politicians, addressing climate change and environmental emergencies, and fighting for the release of her friend Julien Assange.

Built upon four pillars – climate change, stop war, defend human rights and protest capitalism – The Vivienne Foundation, a not-for-profit company founded by the designer, her sons and granddaughter in late 2022 will officially launch next year to “honour, protect and continue the legacy of Vivienne’s life design and activism.”

A true intellectual, perceptive genius, Westwood really shook the cage, and her legacy will continue to spark new flames. We will miss her voice and vision greatly.

Vivienne Westwood FW19

Backstage at Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood FW17. Photography by The London Vagaband

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