Photographer | Lisa Herlands
Vivienne Westwood, the influential fashion maverick who played a key role in the punk movement, died Thursday at the age of 81.
Westwood, the iconic fashion house, announced her death on social media platforms, saying she died peacefully. The cause of death was not disclosed.
“Vivien continued to design the things she loved until the end, work on her art, write her book and change the world for the better,” the statement said. “She led an amazing life. Her creativity and influence over the past 60 years has been immense and will continue to be so.”
Westwood’s fashion career began with the punk explosion of the 1970s, and her radical approach to urban street style took the world by storm. But she went on to enjoy a long career highlighted by triumphant garden shows in London, Paris, Milan and New York.
The name Westwood has become synonymous with style and attitude as she draws attention year after year. Her range was wide and her work was never predictable.
As her stature grew, her designs appeared in museum collections around the world and she seemed to go out of style. The young woman who defied the British establishment eventually became one of the leading lights and used her high profile to advocate for environmental change, even dyeing her hair her trademark shade of orange.
According to Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Westwood is credited with pioneering the punk look, combining a radical fashion approach with the anarchic punk sounds produced by Sex Pistols, which was managed by her partner at the time. Malcolm McLaren.
“They gave the punk movement a look, a style, and it was so radical that it broke with anything that had come before,” he said. “Torn shirts, safety pins, provocative slogans. It introduced postmodernism. It has been very influential since the mid-70s. The punk movement has never gone away – it has become part of our fashion vocabulary. Now it’s mainstream.”
Westwood’s long career was full of contradictions: she was a lifelong rebel who was often honored by Queen Elizabeth II. Even in the 60s, she dressed as a teenager and became an ardent advocate for the fight against global warming, warning of the destruction of the planet if climate change is not controlled.
Vivienne Westwood has made a controversial return to the London catwalk, declaring that “people have never looked as ugly as they do today”.
Photo: Carl Court | AFP | Getty Images
In her punk days, Westwood’s clothing was deliberately shocking: T-shirts emblazoned with pictures of naked boys, and “slave pants” were standard fare in the popular London shops with overtones of sadomasochism. But Westwood has managed to transition from punk to haute couture without missing a beat, without her career veering into self-caricature.
“She was always trying to create fashion. Her work is provocative, it’s transcendent. It’s very rooted in the tradition of English pasty and funny and funny. She’s very proud of her English, and she still sends it,” said Bolton. .
One of those offensive and controversial designs features a swastika, an inverted image of Jesus Christ on a cross, and the word “Destroy.” In a biography written with Ian Kelly, she cited Chile’s Augusto Pinochet as part of the description of politicians torturing people. In a 2009 interview with Time magazine, when asked if she regretted the swastika design, Westwood said no.
“I don’t because we told the previous generation, ‘We don’t accept your values or your taboos, and you’re all fascists,'” she replied.
In the early years, she approached her job with aplomb, but over time she seemed to tire of the shouting and yelling. After decades of designing, she admits she sometimes steps away from fashion to focus on environmental issues and educational projects.
In the year “Fashion can be so boring,” she told The Associated Press after unveiling one of her new collections at a 2010 show. “I’m trying to do something else.” At the time, she was planning to start a television series about art and science.
Her runway shows have always been spectacular events, drawing stars from the glitz of film, music and television seeking to bask in Westwood’s glittering glory. But she still opposes consumerism and conspicuous consumption, urging people not to buy expensive and beautifully made clothes.
“I just tell people, stop buying clothes,” she said. “Why don’t we protect this gift of life while we still have it? I don’t take the view that destruction is inevitable. Some of us want to stop that and help people survive.”
Westwood was a self-taught designer with no formal fashion training. She told Marie Claire magazine that she could make her own clothes by following her own clothes as a teenager. When her store originally wanted to sell 1950s-style clothes, she found vintage clothes at flea markets and took them apart to understand the cut and construction.
“It wasn’t the most efficient way to make clothes, but it was a great way to build my technique,” she told the magazine.
Westwood was born on April 8, 1941 in the village of Glossop, Derbyshire. Her family moved to London in 1957 and she attended art school for a term.
In the year She met McLaren in the 1960s when she was working as a primary school teacher after separating from her first husband, Derek Westwood. She and Maclaren
The store changed its name and often focused on working as “Sex” – Westwood and McLaren in 2010. In 1975 In 1975 they were punished for “indecent exhibition” – and “the end of the world” and “seditionists”.
“Vivien is gone and the world is less interesting already. Love you Vivien,” Chrissy Hynde, frontwoman of The Pretenders and a former employee at the couple’s store, tweeted.
Westwood moved into a new style of design with her “Pirates” collection, which appeared in her first catwalk show in 1981. That discovery is known to have taken Westwood in a more traditional direction, showing her interest in incorporating historic British designs into contemporary clothing.
It was also an important step in the ongoing rapprochement between Westwood and the fashion world. The rebel eventually became one of the most celebrated stars.
But she still found ways to shock. Her statue of liberty in 1987 is credited with starting the “underwear as outerwear” trend.
She eventually ventured into several business ventures, including a partnership with Italian designer Giorgio Armani to create her red ready-to-wear label, a more exclusive gold label, a menswear collection, and fragrances Boudoir and Libertine. Westwood stores have opened in New York, Hong Kong, Milan and many other major cities.
She was awarded Designer of the Year by the British Fashion Council in 1990 and 1991.
Her uneasy relationship with the British establishment was perhaps most evident on her trip to Buckingham Palace in 1992 to receive the British Empire Medal from Queen Elizabeth II: she wore no underwear and posed candidly for photographers.
Apparently, the Queen wasn’t mad: Westwood was invited to play Dame Commander of the British Empire – a woman who resembles a knight – in 2006.
Westwood is survived by her second husband, Austrian-born Andreas Kronthaler, and two sons.
The first fashion photographer Ben Westwood was her son with Derek Westwood. The second, Jo Corre – her son with McLaren – co-founded the upscale Agent Provocateur underwear line.
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