Dame Vivienne Westwood, the legendary fashion designer, has died at the age of 81

Vivienne Westwood-Philip Hollis

Vivienne Westwood-Philip Hollis

Dame Vivienne Westwood has died at the age of 81.

The pioneering British fashion designer rose to fame as the queen of punk in the 1970s with her androgynous designs, slogan t-shirts and irreverent attitude towards the establishment.

Dame Vivienne died on Thursday “peacefully and surrounded by her family in Clapham, south London,” her representatives said.

In a statement, her husband and creative partner Andreas Kronthaler said: “I will continue with Vivienne in my heart.

“We worked to the end and she gave me loads of things to do. Thank you darling”.

A statement from her representatives added: “Vivienne continued to do what she loved until the last minute, designing, working on her art, writing a book and changing the world for the better.

“She led an amazing life. Its innovation and impact over the past 60 years has been enormous and will continue into the future.”

The Vivienne Foundation, a non-profit company founded by Dame Vivienne, her sons and granddaughter in late 2022, is also said to launch next year to “honor, protect and continue the legacy of Vivienne’s life, design and activism”.

Dame Vivienne, who was born in Cheshire in 1941, is widely recognized for bringing punk and new wave fashion to the mainstream with her eccentric creations.

Vivienne Westwood — NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images

Vivienne Westwood — NIKLAS HALLE’N/AFP/Getty Images

Her designs have been regularly worn by celebrities, including Dita Von Teese, who wore a purple Westwood wedding dress to marry Marilyn Manson, and Princess Eugenie, who wore three Westwood designs for various elements of William and Kate Middleton’s wedding.

Dame Vivienne’s designs also featured in the 2008 film adaptation of Sex and the City starring Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw.

In addition to her work as a designer, Dame Vivienne has been a vocal supporter of a number of social and political initiatives, including a campaign to free WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is fighting to avoid being sent to the United States to face charges under the Espionage Act.

In July 2020, she warned against “stapling” Assange while wearing canary yellow in a giant birdcage.

Dame Vivienne told Vogue that her political beliefs were ingrained in school when her teacher “spoke with pride of civilization and democracy” and “hatred of arbitrary arrests” such as those perpetrated by the French monarchy, which “has brought the the Bastille.” “.

During London Fashion Week in 2012, she appeared on the catwalk herself, wrapped in a banner that read “climate revolution”.

In the same year, while attending a reception at St James’s Palace to mark the opening of a new British menswear exhibition at an event hosted by the then Prince of Wales, Dame Vivienne said she owed much of her respect to the royal family to Charles.

She said: “I’m a very big fan of the Queen, I think she’s wonderful and everyone else comes to that opinion.

“But I think a big part of my respect for the royal family is based on Prince Charles – he has done far better things for the country than any English politician.”

Dame Vivienne Westwood pictured in 2006 after an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace - Fiona Hanson / AP

Dame Vivienne Westwood pictured in 2006 after an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace – Fiona Hanson /AP

As the self-proclaimed queen of punk, she has always stirred controversy in the fashion industry with her risqué creations.

The designer was largely responsible for anti-establishment punk fashion and became known for her subversive and eccentric take on traditional British style.

She and Malcolm McLaren, former manager of the punk band Sex Pistols, opened a shop called “Let It Rock”, later renamed “Sex”, in the early 1970s, where she began selling her provocative outfits.

The punk style included bondage gear, safety pins, razor blades, bicycle or toilet chains, and spiked dog collars.

Dame Vivienne caused a stir in 1992 when she received an OOBE from the Queen without her underwear on and swung around the courtyard to reveal everything.

In 2006, when she became a Lady, she again opted not to wear panties and went to Buckingham Palace wearing a pair of silver horns.

Dame Vivienne Westwood with Kate Moss in 2009 - Fiona Hanson/PA

Dame Vivienne Westwood with Kate Moss in 2009 – Fiona Hanson/PA

Some of her most famous creations include the Mini Crini, flowy skirts, tie-up pants and 12-inch platform boots that famously made supermodel Naomi Campbell stumble.

She developed the concept of lingerie as outerwear – and Madonna’s legendary conical bra worn on her Blonde Ambition tour, designed by Jean Paul Gaultier, would probably never have been made if not for Westwood.

She also transformed the corset from a symbol of female repression into a symbol of power and sexual freedom.

After becoming a primary school teacher, she quit her job to become a punk fashion seamstress and opened her shop on Chelsea’s Kings Road with her then-partner McLaren.

The Sex Pistols wore clothes from the store for their first show, and Westwood’s first runway show was at Olympia in London on March 1.

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