Farewell to the Punk Queen Vivienne Westwood

The famed and influential fashion designer who helped to boost the Punk movement during the 1970’s and subsequently the New Romantic one in the early 1980’s, has passed at age 81, leaving behind an extraordinary legacy in fashion and pop culture

Farewell to the Punk Queen Vivienne Westwood

Dame Vivienne Isabel Westwood was born in the village of Tintwistle, Derbyshire on 8 April 1941. Early in her life she took a jewellery and silversmith course at the University of Westminster, then known as the Harrow Art School, paving the way to her future as a fashion designer.
Her first marriage to Derek Westwood ended after she met Malcolm McLaren with whom she had her son Joseph Corré, born in 1967. During this period she also created clothes which McLaren designed. During the late 1970’s McLaren became manager of the punk band the Sex Pistols, and subsequently the two garnered attention as the band wore Westwood’s and McLaren’s designs.
The now iconic store that she co-managed with McLaren, SEX, was a meeting place for early members of the London punk scene and was where the members of the Sex Pistols first came across each other, including the future member Sid Vicious.
Punk icon Viv Albertine, stated in her memoir, “Vivienne and Malcolm use clothes to shock, irritate and provoke a reaction but also to inspire change(…)It’s OK to not be perfect, to show the workings of your life and your mind in your songs and your clothes.” This motto reflected on the music that germinated from the Punk rock music during that period. Vivienne Westwood also influenced and named the next music movement period 1981–85 as “New Romantic”, from where bands such as Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran emerged, and later, 1988–91 as “The Pagan Years” during which “Vivienne’s heroes changed from punks and ragamuffins to ‘Tatler’ girls wearing clothes that parodied the upper class”. A fashion multi-tasker and creative, Westwood worked closely with Richard Branson to design uniforms for Virgin Atlantic crew. In 1992, Westwood was awarded an OBE, which she collected from Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. At the ceremony, she caught attention as she was wearing nothing but sheer tights with reinforced bikini top under her skirt.
In a 2007 interview, Westwood spoke out against what she perceive as the “drug of consumerism”, and in 2009 she attended the première of The Age of Stupid, a film aimed at motivating the public to act against climate change, molding her final years as a climate change activist. She later created a manifesto called Active Resistance to Propaganda, which she said deals with the pursuit of art in relation to the human predicament and climate change.

With four shops in London and expanded throughout Britain and the world, selling an increasingly varied range of merchandise, some of which promotes her many political causes , Vivienne Westwood died in Clapham, London, on 29 December 2022, at the age of 81. RIP

Look back: the iconic Sex Pistols music video for “God Save The Queen”, where the band wears Vivienne Westwood’s clothes creations


Watch i-Cons: Vivienne Westwood


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