Vivienne Westwood, an English fashion designer who helped popularise punk and new wave styles, passed away at 81.
The fashion legend died suddenly in Clapham, South London, with her family at her side on December 29, thanks to an Instagram statement on her business account. No information on what killed her is available at this time.
“Up until her last moments, Vivienne did what she loved most: designed, worked on her art, wrote her book, and changed the world,” the website added.
The statement said, “Her invention and effect over the previous 60 years has been great and will continue.”
Westwood’s punk-inspired fusion of fashion and music propelled the genre to new heights, and she was a political activist on the catwalk.
Vivienne Isabel Swire was born on April 8, 1941, in the northern English hamlet of Tintwistle. She first attended the London College of Jewellery but soon left. She has a son from her previous marriage to Derek Westwood, a manufacturing worker.
To her former student and 25 years her junior, Andreas Kronthaler, she tied the knot in 1992.
At age 40, Vivienne Westwood debuted a catwalk collection with McLaren in 1981. The gender-neutral attire was reminiscent of the era of pirates, highwaymen, and dapper gentlemen. She rocked everything from fetishistic bondage gear to humongous platform heels and slogan T-shirts.
Vivienne Westwood was recognized as one of the 20th century’s top six fashion designers in 1989. Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Giorgio Armani, Christian Lacroix, and Emanuel Ungaro were all listed in John Fairchild’s list of the most influential designers along with her.
Mini-crinis, flesh-colored tights with modesty fig leaves, and Westwood’s characteristic corsetry were among her many innovations during the decade.
In a documentary from 1990, fashion writer Peter York described her like this: “Her motivations and the obsessions upon which her work rests are very British in every respect. The overall focus is on social status and sexual orientation, and in especially, the monarchy. Those aren’t skills you could hone anyplace else.”
The fashion world cannot express the grief it is facing right now. Her fashion legacy will remain with us in our hearts and the world.