Death of Vivienne Westwood, "the empress of punk" who became a great lady of fashion

Death of Vivienne Westwood, “the empress of punk” who became a great lady of fashion

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 fifty years of fashion as a political platform.

“Vivienne Westwood died today peacefully and surrounded by her family in Clapham, south London. The world needs people like Vivienne to make things better,” the fashion label tweeted of her.

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 gray hair, tied in an elegant bun. With a slim silhouette, the designer stands on impressive wedge shoes. The one who stirred – and even shocked – the stifled world of fashion remains true to herself.

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.

Born Vivienne Swire -Westwood is the name of her first husband with whom she will stay for four years- on April 8, 1941 in a small town in 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 began making clothes, opening a shop on King’s Road in 1970.


Porn t-shirts, SM outfits, pumps with stiletto heels or vinyl stockings make up the outfits that Vivienne Westwood shows off to astonished passers-by. Success is on the way. Her closeness to the “Sex Pistols,” whose hit “God Save the Queen” was a worldwide hit, anchored the couple in the punk universe.

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

If she strays away from BDSM (bondage, submission, domination, 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.


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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