Vivienne Westwood, UK’s rebellious fashion designer, dies aged 81 – National

Sex Pistols costume designer Vivienne Westwood, who died Thursday at the age of 81, is synonymous with 1970s punk rock, a rebellion that remains the hallmark of an unrepentant political designer , who became one of British fashion’s biggest names.

“Vivienne Westwood passed away today, peaceful and surrounded by family, in Clapham, South London. The world needs people like Vivienne to make change for the better,” her fashion label wrote on Twitter.

Climate change, pollution, and her support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are all material for the t-shirts or protest banners her models carry on the runway.

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She dressed up as then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher for a magazine cover in 1989 and drove a white tank near the hometown of the later British leader, David Cameron, to protest the use of publicity. mining technology.

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Rebels were introduced to Britain in 1992 by Queen Elizabeth, who awarded her the Order of the British Empire. But, always wanting to shock, Westwood showed up at Buckingham Palace without her underwear on – a fact she demonstrated to photographers with a revealing twist of her dress.

“The only reason I got into fashion was to break the word ‘conformity,’” Westwood said in his 2014 biography. “Nothing is interesting to me unless it has that element.”

Instantly recognizable with her orange or white hair, Westwood first made a name for herself in punk fashion in 1970s London, wearing the outfits of the punk rock band that defined the genre. .

Along with Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, she defied hippie trends of the time to sell rock’n’roll inspired clothing.

They switched to ragged outfits adorned with chains as well as the rubber and fetish items they sold at their store on King’s Road in London under various names as “Let It Rock”. ”, “Sex” and “Sessionaries”, among others.

Click to play video: 'Vivienne Westwood's son, Joe Corre, burns over $8 million worth of punk memorabilia'

Vivienne Westwood’s son, Joe Corre, burns over $8 million worth of punk memorabilia

They used swastika prints, bare breasts, and perhaps most famously, the queen with a pin through her lips. Favorites include sleeveless, rhinestones, zippered black T-shirts, pins, or bleached chicken bones.

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“There was no punk before Malcolm and I,” Westwood said in the bio. “And another thing you should know about punk music: it’s a total blast.”


Born Vivienne Isabel Swire on April 8, 1941, in the English Midlands town of Glossop, Westwood grew up at a time of distribution during and after the Second World War.

The recycling mentality is pervasive in her work, and she has repeatedly told fashionistas to “choose” and “buy less.” Since the late 1960s, she lived in a small flat in south London for about 30 years and cycled to work.

When she was a teenager, her parents, a greengrocer and cotton weaver, moved the family to north London, where she apprenticed as jewelry maker and silversmith before retraining as a teacher.

While teaching in an elementary school, she met her first husband, Derek Westwood, marrying him in a homemade dress. Their son Ben was born in 1963 and the couple divorced in 1966.

Now a single mother, Westwood was selling jewelry on Portobello Road in London when she met art student McLaren, who would become her romantically and professionally life partner. They have one son, Joe Corre, who co-founded lingerie brand Agent Provocateur.

After the Sex Pistols split, the two held their first catwalk show in 1981, introducing a “new romantic” look with African patterns, trousers, and belts.

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Westwood, then in his forties, slowly began to forge his own fashion path, eventually breaking away from McLaren in the early 1980s.

Often looking at history, her influential designs include corsets, Harris Tweed suits, and taffeta evening gowns.

Her 1985 “Mini-Crini” line introduced a puffy mini skirt and a more fitted silhouette. Her sky-high boots gained worldwide attention in 1993 when model Naomi Campbell stumbled upon a pair on the catwalk.

“My clothes have a story. They have an identity. They have character and purpose,” Westwood said.

“That’s why they became classics. Because they keep telling a story. They are still talking to it.

The Westwood brand flourished in the 1990s, with fashionistas flocking to her runway shows in Paris and boutiques opening around the world selling a range of products and accessories. and her perfume.

She met her second husband, Andreas Kronthaler, who taught fashion in Vienna. They married in 1993 and he later became her creative partner.

Westwood has used her public profile to advocate for issues including nuclear disarmament and oppose anti-terrorism laws and government spending policies that hit the poor. She held a large “climate revolution” banner at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Paralympics in London and regularly transforms her models into eco-warriors on the catwalk.

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“I’ve always had a political agenda,” Westwood told fashion magazine L’Officiel in 2018.

“I used fashion to challenge the status quo.”


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