Vivienne Westwood 1941-2022 |  British fashion loses its "terrible child"

Vivienne Westwood 1941-2022 | British fashion loses its “terrible child”

She was both the ’empress of punk’ and the star designer of British fashion: Known for her eccentric creations, Vivienne Westwood died on Thursday after more than 50 years of fashion as a political platform.



“Vivienne Westwood died today, peacefully surrounded by her family in Clapham, South London. The world needs people like Vivienne to make things better,” she tweeted from her couture label.

In a statement quoted by the PA agency, her husband and creative partner Andreas Kronthaler added: “We worked to the end and she left me a lot to continue. Thank you dear. »

March 2022 in Paris: at the end of her brand’s show, the 81-year-old designer steps up to the podium to greet the public.

The long red hair comes out, here is the white hair, tied in an elegant bun. With a slim silhouette, the designer stands on impressive wedge shoes. The one that stirred up –and even shocked– the stifled world of fashion is still there, true to itself.

However, in 2016, she handed over the artistic direction of her label to her husband Andreas Kronthaler, an Austrian 25 years her junior.

Change, yes, but in the continuity of what the Westwood brand has been: a rebellious, transgressive and committed label.

“Standing up for ideas makes me happy,” she told friend Ian Kelly, who co-authored a biography published with her in 2014.

“Always Punk”

Born as Vivienne Swire -Westwood is the name of her first husband with whom she will remain for four years- on April 8, 1941 in a small town in the county of Derbyshire (central England), she is the eldest of a modest family of three children. . .

He left his native region at the age of 17 to go to London, where he studied fashion. Her meeting with Malcolm McLaren, the future manager of the Sex Pistols, changes her life.

Driven by the same desire to break away from the “Peace and Love” generation, the couple launched into the world of clothing, opening a store on the King’s Road in 1970.

  • Vivienne Westwood and her husband, Andreas Kronthaler, at Yves Saint-Laurent's funeral in 2008

    PHOTOGRAPH BY BERTRAND LANGLOIS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

    Vivienne Westwood and her husband, Andreas Kronthaler, at Yves Saint-Laurent’s funeral in 2008

  • In July 2020, Vivienne Westwood appeared in a giant cage outside a London court to protest the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

    PHOTO NIKLAS HALLE’N, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

    In July 2020, Vivienne Westwood appeared in a giant cage outside a London court to protest the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

  • In 2015, the fashion designer rode an armored car in front of the British Prime Minister's house to protest a fossil fuel project.

    PHOTO LEON NEAL, AGENCY FRANCE-PRESSE

    In 2015, the fashion designer rode an armored car in front of the British Prime Minister’s house to protest a fossil fuel project.

  • Vivienne Westwood at the end of a London fashion show in 2017

    PHOTO NEIL HALL, REUTERS

    Vivienne Westwood at the end of a London fashion show in 2017

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Porn t-shirts, sadomasos sets, stilettos or vinyl stockings make up the outfits that Vivienne Westwood wears before astonished passers-by. Success is on the way. Her closeness to the Sex Pistols, whose God save the Queen is a worldwide success, anchoring the couple in the punk universe.

It was during this period that he designed his famous t-shirt with the face of Queen Elizabeth II. In 1981 he organized his first show in London, which he called “Pirates”.

If she strays away from BDSM (bondage, domination, submission, and sadomasochism) outfits over the years, she will never betray her punk spirit.

“What I do today is still punk. It’s always about crying out against injustice and making people think even if it’s uncomfortable. I will always be punk in this sense, ”he confided to Ian Kelly.

green passion flower

Always irreverent, like in 1992 when she was photographed leaving Buckingham Palace without underwear. The designer had just been made an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) by the Queen and she exposed her private parts by twirling her skirt.

But above all, Vivienne Westwood remains an ultra-politicized fashion designer. Convictions that she defended on her podium.

At the center of their struggles, their commitment to the environment. She is a pioneer, in 2008 she called on the fashion industry to take climate change into account and urged consumers not to constantly buy clothes, although her detractors pointed out her contradictions in this area.

His other big fight was the defense of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, arrested in 2019 after spending more than seven years as a refugee in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The same year he denounced during one of his parades “the corruption of the government and the death of justice.”

A year later, he appeared in a giant cage in front of a London court to protest his extradition.


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