British fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood, responsible for ushering in the punk fashion phenomenon of the 1970s, has passed away at the age of 81.
During Westwood’s multi-decade career, she defined British fashion with her eccentric designs, style and environmental activism.
The brand announced the passing away of Westwood on Instagram revealing she died peacefully surrounded by her family, in Clapham, South London.
“Vivienne continued to do the things she loved, up until the last moment, designing, working on her art, writing her book, and changing the world for the better. She led an amazing life. Her innovation and impact over the last 60 years has been immense and will continue into the future,” continued the post.
Vivienne considered herself a Taoist. She wrote, ‘”Tao spiritual system. There was never more need for the Tao today. Tao gives you a feeling that you belong to the cosmos and gives purpose to your life; it gives you such a sense of identity and strength to know you’re living the life you can live and therefore ought to be living: make full use of your character and full use of your life on earth.’”
“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,” said Westwood’s husband and creative partner, Andreas Kronthaler.
Westwood was born in 1941 in Tintwistle, East Midlands of England. By 1958, her family moved to Harrow in the London Borough of Harrow and this is when she showed an interest in fashion by enrolling on to a jewelry and silversmith course at Harrow Art School, now known as University of Westminster, but dropped out after one term.
She had a short stint as a primary school teacher while simultaneously creating her own jewelry and selling it at a stall on Portobello Road.
Westwood met her first husband Derek Westwood in 1962 and married him that same year in a wedding dress that she made herself at the age of 21.
The couple divorced when she met Malcolm McLaren in 1965, the manager of the Sex Pistols and the driving force behind punk along with Westwood.
They opened a boutique on 430 Kings Road in London’s Chelsea in 1971, where Westwood sold her designs that were worn by the Sex Pistols and the New-York Dolls.
The store would change its name every time Westwood designed a collection, from “Let It Rock”, “Too Fast To Live, Too Young To Die,” “Sex,” “Seditionaries,” and “World’s End.”
The age of punk rock fashion had ushered in.
“I began fashion as a rebel expressing myself through clothes. We chose the ’50s for our inspiration because that seemed a time when youth rebelled against age: See you later, daddy, you’re too square! The hippies politicised my generation and I hated a world of torture and death organised by the western world,” wrote Westwood in her 2016 book “Get a Life: The Diaries of Vivienne Westwood.”