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Punk pioneer & avante garde British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood dies, aged 81

Tributes poured in on hearing the news that punk pioneer and British fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood has died aged 81.

In a statement on Twitter, her fashion house said she died “peacefully and surrounded” by her family in Clapham, South London.

Westwood came to public prominence in 1976 for the controversial clothes she made for a boutique that she run with then-boyfriend Malcolm McLaren on London’s King’s Road called SEX.

Westwood deserves just as much credit as McLaren for pioneering the punk movement and the couple’s adeptness to fuse outrageous clothing and music shaped the 1970s UK punk scene which was dominated by McLaren’s band, the Sex Pistols.

The Cheshire-born avante-garde fashion guru and philosopher viewed punk as a way of “seeing if one could put a spoke in the system.” She later went on to dress some of the biggest stars in fashion.

Punk pioneer & avante garde British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood dies, aged 81 | News by Thaiger

Her husband and creative partner Andreas Kronthaler since 1992 said…

“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.”

Westwood came to prominence with her androgynous designs, slogan T-shirts and irreverent attitude toward the British establishment.

She was a staunch activist and brought causes like climate change onto the catwalk.

The designer was made a Dame for services to fashion in 2006.

Tributes have poured in from the world of fashion, politics and show business.

Fashion designer and former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham said…

“I’m so sad to learn of the passing of legendary designer and activist Dame Vivienne Westwood.

“My thoughts are with her family at this incredibly sad time.”

TV presenter Jonathan Ross said…

“RIP the great Vivienne Westwood. Unique. Brilliant. Uncompromising. Thanks, Viv x.”

Singer Boy George, who first met Westwood in the early 1980s, called her “great and inspiring” and “without question she is the undisputed Queen of British fashion.”

Singer Billy Idol tweeted…

“RIP it will take me a bit to take this in…”.

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan wrote on Twitter…

“A sad day, Vivienne Westwood was and will remain a towering figure in British fashion.

“Her punk style rewrote the rule book in the 1970s and was widely admired for how she stayed true to her own values throughout her life.”

In 1981, Westwood held her first proper fashion show remembered as the Pirate Collection, and she continued to use British and French history to inspire her.

By the 2000s, Westwood was designing wedding dresses for the likes of model Dita Von Teese, who dressed in her purple gown to marry singer Marilyn Manson, and Princess Eugenie who wore three Westwood designs for the wedding of Prince William and Catherine.

Her designs were also featured in the 2008 film version of Sex and The City.

As well as climate change, Westwood became a vocal supporter of the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is fighting extradition to the US to face charges under the Espionage Act. In July 2020, she dressed in canary yellow in a giant bird cage warning over an Assange “stitch up.”

Westwood is survived by her two children, Ben Westwood and Joseph Corré.

Westwood is also a grandmother to Corré’s daughter, Cora.

Punk pioneer & avante garde British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood dies, aged 81 | News by Thaiger

 

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Bob Scott

Bob is a published author with over 25 years experience as a journalist.