Vivienne Westwood, an influential trend maverick who performed a key function within the punk motion, died on Thursday at 81.
Westwood’s eponymous trend home introduced her demise on social media platforms, saying she died peacefully. A reason behind demise was not disclosed.
Westwood’s trend profession started within the Seventies with the punk explosion, when her radical method to city road type took the world by storm. However she went on to get pleasure from an extended profession highlighted by a string of triumphant runway exhibits in London, Paris, Milan and New York.
The identify Westwood turned synonymous with type and perspective whilst she shifted focus from yr to yr. Her vary was huge and her work was by no means predictable.
As her stature grew, she appeared to transcend trend, together with her designs proven in museum collections all through the world.
The younger girl who had scorned the British institution ultimately turned one in all its main lights, and she or he used her elite place to foyer for environmental reforms whilst she saved her hair dyed the brilliant shade of orange that turned her trademark.
Profession of contradictions
Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute on the Metropolitan Museum of New York, mentioned Westwood could be celebrated for pioneering the punk look, pairing a radical trend method with the anarchic punk sounds developed by the Intercourse Pistols, who had been managed by her then-partner, Malcolm McLaren.
“They gave the punk motion a glance, a method, and it was so radical it broke from something prior to now,” Bolton mentioned.
“The ripped shirts, the protection pins, the provocative slogans. She launched postmodernism. It was so influential from the mid-’70s. The punk motion has by no means dissipated — it is turn out to be a part of our trend vocabulary. It is mainstream now.”
Westwood’s lengthy profession was stuffed with contradictions: She was a lifelong insurgent who was honoured a number of occasions by the Queen. She dressed like a teen even in her 60s and have become an outspoken advocate of combating world warming, warning of planetary doom if local weather change was not managed.
She was additionally a vocal supporter of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
In her punk days, Westwood’s garments had been usually deliberately surprising: T-shirts embellished with drawings of bare boys, and “bondage pants” with sadomasochistic overtones had been normal fare in her widespread London outlets.
However Westwood was capable of make the transition from punk to high fashion with out lacking a beat, maintaining her profession going with out stooping to self-caricature.
Work known as ‘provocative,’ ‘transgressive’
“She was at all times making an attempt to reinvent trend. Her work is provocative, it is transgressive. It’s extremely a lot rooted within the English custom of pastiche and irony and satire. She could be very happy with her Englishness, and nonetheless she sends it up,” Bolton mentioned.
A kind of transgressive and contentious designs featured a swastika, an inverted picture of Jesus Christ on the cross and the phrase “Destroy.”
In an autobiography written with Ian Kelly, she mentioned it was meant as a part of a press release in opposition to politicians torturing folks, citing Chile’s Augusto Pinochet. When requested in a 2009 interview with Time journal if she regretted the swastika design, Westwood mentioned no.
“I do not, as a result of we had been simply saying to the older era, ‘We do not settle for your values or your taboos, and also you’re all fascists,'” she responded.
She approached her work with gusto in her early years, however over time she appeared to tire of the clamor and buzz.
After many years of designing, she typically spoke wistfully of shifting past trend so she might focus on environmental issues and academic tasks.
“Trend will be so boring,” she advised The Related Press after unveiling one in all her new collections at a 2010 present. “I am looking for one thing else to do.”
On the time, she was speaking up plans to begin a tv sequence about artwork and science.
Her runway exhibits had been at all times essentially the most stylish occasions, drawing stars from the glittery world of movie, music and tv who needed to take pleasure in Westwood’s mirrored glory. However nonetheless she spoke out in opposition to consumerism and conspicuous consumption, even urging folks to not purchase her costly, fantastically made garments.
“I simply inform folks, cease shopping for garments,” she mentioned. “Why not defend this present of life whereas we’ve got it? I do not take the perspective that destruction is inevitable. A few of us wish to cease that and assist folks survive.”
Westwood’s activism prolonged to supporting WikiLeaks founder Assange, posing in an enormous birdcage in 2020 to attempt to halt his extradition to the USA over the group’s launch of confidential U.S. army information. She even designed the gown Stella Moris wore when she married Assange this previous March at a London jail.
World ‘a much less attention-grabbing place’ with out her
Westwood was self-taught, with no formal trend coaching. She advised Marie Claire journal that she discovered learn how to make her personal garments as a teen by following patterns. When she needed to promote Nineteen Fifties-style garments at her first store, she discovered outdated garments in markets and took them aside to grasp the reduce and development.
She met Malcolm McLaren within the Sixties whereas working as a major schoolteacher after separating from her first husband, Derek Westwood. She and McLaren opened a small store in Chelsea in 1971, the tail finish of the “Swinging London” period ushered in by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
The store modified its identify and focus a number of occasions, working as “SEX” — Westwood and McLaren had been fined in 1975 for an “indecent exhibition” there — and “World’s Finish” and “Seditionaries.”
Among the many staff at their store was Intercourse Pistols bassist Glen Matlock, who known as Westwood “a one-off, pushed, single-minded, gifted woman” in a press release to The Related Press.
He mentioned it was a privilege “to have rubbed shoulders together with her within the mid ’70s at what was the start of punk and the worldwide waves it created that also proceed to echo and resound right now for the disaffected, hipper and wised up across the globe.”
“Vivienne is gone and the world is already a much less attention-grabbing place,” Chrissie Hynde, the frontwoman of rock band the Pretenders and one other former worker, posted on Twitter.