The worlds of fashion, music and art are mourning the death of Dame Vivienne Westwood, who passed away peacefully in her Clapham home surrounded by family on December 29. She was 81-years-old, and leaves a heaving, tremendous legacy in her wake.
An iconoclast from the very beginning, Westwood erupted on the fashion scene in the 70s when she opened a boutique at 430 Kings Road in Chelsea with her then boyfriend Malcolm McLaren, manager of the Sex Pistols. The clothes bled sex and were inspired by fetish with bondage and S&M at the heart of her 70s collections. When she eventually moved away from McLaren and the punk movement (although not its anti-establishment conviction), her designs – heavy with historical references – continued to dominate.
Be it through the 80s New Romantic collections inspired by Victorian dress and laced with Mini-Crinis, corsets and later on, tweed, or the Anglomania years of the 90s when Westwood wed Austrian design student Andreas Kronthaler – her partner in life and work. Her designs were lifted from those worn by the establishment, and with a bit of Westwood magic (and satire) she served them back with a safety pin attached.
It was these same years when Westwood was the architect behind memorable moments like Kate Moss in Marie Antoinette makeup walking the runway topless while eating an icecream from Erotic Zones SS95 or that time Naomi Campbell gracefully stumbled in nine inch platforms while closing the AW93 show.
From the outset, Vivienne Westwood's clothes have been charged with political meaning, and in her later years, that message became one of environmentalism and saving the planet. Next year The Vivienne Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation will launch as was the wishes of the late designer, and will hinge upon four pillars – Climate Change, Stop War, Defend Human Rights and Protest Capitalism.
"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," the Instagram post sharing the news of her death reads. She made clothes for real women, and all with a signature sense of Britishness. And while it's impossible to pin down her influence in a matter of 300 words, what is clear to us all, is that fashion has lost one of the last greats. Goodbye the Godmother of Punk. Goodbye the fashion's grand dame. You will be missed.
View this post on Instagram