September 27, 2023


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The iconic and disruptive Vivienne Westwood died

The designer who revolutionized the world of fashion in the 70s and 80s with the aesthetic associated with punk and the ‘New Wave’, has died at the age of 81.

Designer Vivienne Westwood died Thursday at the age of 81 at her home in Clapham, south of the UK capital, London. The sad news of her death was announced by her representative on social networks. The artist was known for revolutionizing fashion in the 1970s and 1980s with aesthetics associated with punk and the ‘New Wave’.

Her husband and creative partner, Andreas Kronthaler, fired her in the different British media and announced that he will continue his business legacy.

“We have been working to the end and she has given me many things to keep going,” the BBC reported.

Vivienne Westwood rose to fame in the 1970s with her androgynous punk and new wave designs. She ran a ’boutique’ on the capital’s famous King’s Road, together with British Sex Pistols producer Malcolm McLaren.

Vivienne Westwood: the lady of punk

I searched for support for a long time, but never found it. And that became my strength. Nobody ever told me what to do, ”said a calm Vivienne Isabel Swire, better known to the world as Vivienne Westwood (the last name of her first marriage), in an interview for an English medium.

Westwood was born in 1941 in Derbyshire, a town in the north of England. She was a primary school teacher and studied art at Harrow Art College. She left at the age of three months. The designer married Derek Westwood with whom she had her first child, Ben , until she met Malcolm McLaren , the future manager of one of the most important punk rock bands: the Sex Pistols.

His great love and sidekick

In London in 1971, together with McLaren, Vivienne opened a used clothing boutique from the 50s, where they also sold rock records.

Leather, studs and zips define style. The Sex Pistols were quick to embrace the bondage look, Chrissie Hynde (founder of The Pretenders) worked there as a salesperson, and even David Bowie and Bryan Ferry (Roxy Music) sought out rarities for their shows at 430 King’s Road.

The London venue changed its name several times and really marked a style that many did not dare to explore: “Let it rock” was the first, in 1972 it mutated to “Too fast to live, too young to die” , and in the years following, the dark stained glass window with an engraved bronze plate read: “Sex, exclusive for soldiers, prostitutes and punks”.

For 1976 it was called “Seditionaries” until the definitive title was “World’s End”.

Almost a refuge for many, several who passed through the boutique achieved success, and the famous “pogo” became an anthem attributed to Miss Westwood. For their part, the couple of punk stylists had two sons, Benjamin and Joseph, for whom dressing in leather and hook pins was normal.

His “Pirates” collection (1981) marked a style that still amazes us today: the use of gold teeth as a styling resource. In addition, asymmetrical shirts and riding pants were added.

In 1986 the mini-crinis and the triple platforms that accompanied the exaggerated amplitude of the skirts, were his brand mark, in addition to the corsets of 1987.

The intellectual designer, a faithful admirer of typical English fabrics, was also obsessed with eighteenth-century paintings and furniture from that era. In 1990 she was inspired by a painting by the French François Boucher, with shepherds and sheep as protagonists.

The collection was so successful that she confessed: “What I loved most about that painting was the pink bow that Boucher put around the sheep’s neck.” The French inspired the rest of her collections such as “Vive la cocotte” (1995), where Demi Moore wore a dress inspired by the painting by the Italian Giambattista Tiepolo; and “Live the bagatelle” (1997).

The environmental crusade

“Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist” (2018) captures Vivienne Westwood’s iconic parades of the last 21 years, but the most significant part of her life is activism now (wasn’t it always through her designs?), with human rights and climate change at the forefront.

The activist targets politicians, dismisses them as criminals and always shares the advice of the three R’s: reduce, reuse and recycle. She also takes Greta Thunberg as a reference , the young voice that continues to alert us to the need for urgent global change .

Undoubtedly, Vivienne paved the way so that young people like Thunberg are not afraid to express themselves and fight against what hurts them. Westwood, who speaks about all of these issues on her Instagram page – through the video series “Save the World: The Big Picture” -, will not be the last punk; her mark will forever stand as a symbol of resistance against oppression and injustice about freedom.