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Vivienne Westwood the Fashion designer, style icon and stylist dies at the age of 81.

British Fashion designer and iconic style icon Vivienne Westwood passed away at the age of 81 years old. She died peacefully, in the company of her family from her residence at London the day before, as per an official statement released by her company named after her.

In the eyes of the media her name became “the high priestess of punk” and was dubbed the “Queen of Extreme.” In the world of fashion she was a beloved persona who was a force to be reckoned with and challenged into the realm of fashion industry until her passing.

The model twirled without culottes to photographers following the Order of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II in 1992. Then, in April of 1989 she was on the page for Tatler magazine, in an Aquascutum suit that she claimed was meant to be a tribute to Margaret Thatcher.

Westwood honestly, didn’t care a whit. She was the most seasoned of geniuses with a hair color that changed from orange to alabaster skin she was ridiculed to the status of a British the nation’s treasure.

“I have an in-built perversity,” Westwood is reported to have claimed, as per Jon Savage’s famous “England’s Dreaming: The Sex Pistols and Punk Rock,” “a kind of in-built clock which always reacts against anything orthodox.”

The girl was born Vivienne Isabel Swire from Derbyshire, England on April 8th 1941. Her mother was weaver at the local cotton mills. Her father was a member of the shoemaker family. She began sewing clothes for herself when she was an teen.

After a brief stint in Harrow Art School, she was teacher at the primary school, and then married an industrial worker, Derek Westwood, in 1962.

Then, she separated from her husband and then met Malcolm McLaren in 1965.

“I felt as if there were so many doors to open, and he had the key to all of them,” she said to Newsweek in 2004.

It’s hard to imagine the 1970s in Britain without their collaborative effort. McLaren was the manager of Sex Pistols and from a shop in the London’s King’s Road, Westwood helped to create a visual vocabulary to the movement known as punk.

The shop’s names changed – -Let It Rock; Too fast to live; Too Young To Die Sex; SeditionariesHowever, you can’t avoid its impact on the streets.

“It changed the way people looked,” Westwood stated to Time magazine in 2012. “I was messianic about punk, seeing if one could put a spoke in the system in some way.”

Her clothing ranged from fetishistic bondage clothing to huge platform shoes as well as slogan T-shirts. Seditionaries sold a famous tshirt that showed the Queen with a security pin through her lip.

Westwood was eventually able to move on. In 1981, when she was 40, Westwood launched her first catwalk collection together with McLaren. The clothes that were gender neutral brought back the golden period of highwaymen, piracy buccaneers, and dandies. Westwood learned old tailoring methods and then twisted them into a new approach later copied in other British designers such as John Galliano and Alexander McQueen.

In the course of this decade Westwood took inspiration from a variety of sources, including Keith Haring, “Blade Runner” and the French Foreign Legion.

She created the mini-crini (combining the tutu with Victorian crinoline) flesh-colored tights, with modest fig leaves, and the signature corsetry that was that was worn as an outerwear item. She created frocks specifically for women with hips and breasts (ask Nigella Lawson or Marion Cotillard who both have worn Westwood with a dramatic effect) and would play with Harris tartan and tweed.

John Fairchild, then the supremely powerful editor at Women’s Wear Daily, conferred his approval in 1989. According to him she was one of the most influential six designers of the 20th century alongside Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Giorgio Armani, Christian Lacroix and Emanuel Ungaro. Westwood was the sole woman, and the only Brit and the sole designer on his list that wasn’t already a multi-million-dollar brand. (In 1989 she was living in an ex-council apartment located in South London and was “virtually bankrupt,” according to Jane Mulvagh’s biography in 1998, “Vivienne Westwood: An Unfashionable Life.”)

Fashion Writer Peter York summed her up in a documentary in 1990: “All the things that fuel her, and all the obsessions she builds her work around are typically British: The whole thing about class and sex, the particular obsession with the Queen. You couldn’t develop those anywhere else.”

When she was in 1992, Westwood was married in 1992 to an Austrian designer student, Andreas Kronthaler, 25 years younger than her. They co-designed together prior to his taking the line of her ready-to-wear in the year 2016. In a statement that was released along in the wake of her death , Kronthaler wrote, “I will continue with Vivienne in my heart. We have been working until the end and she has given me plenty of things to get on with. Thank you darling.”

Tributes started flooding in Thursday night from all over the globe. Fashion model Bella Hadid posted photos taken with the designer on Instagram and wrote “I will forever be grateful to have been in your orbit, because to me and most, in fashion and humanity, you, Vivienne, were the sun.” British Vogue editor-in chief, Edward Enninful, also paid tribute to the designer on his Instagram and described her as “a true icon of British fashion and an irreplaceable force in the industry.” On Twitter, the Boy George, the singer Boy George wrote “R.I.P. to the great and inspiring Vivienne Westwood who lead us through punk and beyond,” noting that “she is the undisputed Queen of British fashion.”

Westwood was an active advocate on issues that ranged from climate change to freedom of speech. Westwood was a vocal environmentalist always focusing on quality over the quantity of shopping for clothes. In her show for Fall-Winter 2019/2020 in London Fashion Week, Westwood was able to send models, actors and even activists down the runway wearing political posters that was a slogan that read “What’s good for the planet is good for the economy.”

She frequently participated in environmental protests. In 2015, she was recalled for riding tanks to British Premier David Cameron’s residence in protest of hydraulic Fracking. In June of 2020, Westwood, dressed in yellow, suspended herself from the size of a birdcage in protest against that the exile of WikiLeaks founding member Julian Assange to the central criminal court of Britain.

The Vivienne Foundation, a non-profit business established by Westwood along with her sons and granddaughter in the latter half of 2022, will be officially launched next year. According to Westwood’s spokespeople, the foundation promises to “honour, protect and continue the legacy of Vivienne’s life, design and activism.”



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