Iconoclastic British clothier Dame Vivienne Westwood, who rose to prominence through the punk motion of the Seventies and has remained an anarchic presence in vogue since, has died aged 81.
Introduced yesterday night (29 December 2022), Westwood died peacefully surrounded by family and friends in her dwelling in Clapham, South London. Andreas Kronthaler, Westwood’s husband and inventive companion, paid tribute: ‘I’ll proceed with Vivienne in my coronary heart. We now have been working till the top and he or she has given me loads of issues to get on with. Thanks darling.’
Westwood continued to ‘do the issues she beloved up till the final second, designing, engaged on her artwork, writing her guide, and altering the world,’ the assertion continued. It additionally famous that Westwood thought of herself a Taoist, an historic Chinese language philosophy which inspires concord with the universe.
Dame Vivienne Westwood dies aged 81
‘There was by no means extra want for the Tao than at present,’ Westwood is quoted as beforehand saying. ’Tao offers you a sense that you simply belong to the cosmos and provides goal to your life; it offers you such a way of identification and energy to know you’re residing the life you’ll be able to reside and due to this fact must be residing: make full use of your character and full use of your life on Earth.’
Westwood was born Vivienne Isabel Swire in 1941 within the small village of Tintwistle, Derbyshire, earlier than transferring to the north London suburb of Harrow together with her household in 1957. She briefly attended Harrow Artwork Faculty, dropping out after a time period to attend secretarial school and later develop into a trainer. She married Derek Westwood in 1962 and gave start to her first little one Benjamin Westwood in 1963, although they cut up not lengthy afterwards.
It was whereas working as a main faculty trainer that Westwood met then-art scholar Malcolm McLaren – a music impresario who went on to handle the Intercourse Pistols – in a relationship that may show formative. A part of London’s burgeoning punk motion, they opened the boutique Let It Rock at 430 King’s Street in 1971, promoting classic memorabilia and clothes. It might endure numerous iterations within the following years – Too Quick To Stay Too Younger To Die, SEX, Seditionaries and at last Worlds Finish – incorporating Westwood and McLaren’s personal designs, which frequently featured provocative slogans and DIY building. Different items had been impressed by fetish put on.
In 1981, Westwood and McLaren staged their first runway present ‘Pirates’, which marked a shift from punk and ushered within the New Romantics period (Adam Ant had drafted McLaren for a rebrand not lengthy earlier; a number of of the designs got here from outfits created for the musician). Drawing inspiration from historic portraiture of the seventeenth and 18th centuries, romantic thrives – bell sleeves, pirate hats, sashes and powdered wigs – met the anarchic spirit of their earlier work with studded and tattered components.
Such a dichotomy continued to run by means of Westwood’s collections all through her profession (the partnership with McLaren was dissolved within the mid-Nineteen Eighties). In 1985, she launched the ‘mini crini’ – a thigh-grazing riff on historic crinolines – and later reintroduced the corset, worn uncovered, in 1987 (variations of the corset have appeared in Westwood collections ever since). Such inspirations had been oftentimes drawn from a group of artists she significantly admired – Jean-Honoré Fragonard, François Boucher and Thomas Gainsborough – noting her explicit fondness for London’s The Wallace Assortment gallery and its Rococo portraiture.
Tropes of conventional British gown would even be an inspiration level for the designer, most famously in her evocation of tartan. Offered in Paris, Westwood’s A/W 1993 assortment was titled Anglomania and featured ‘MacAndreas’ tartan – named after husband Kronthaler – throughout a group that the designer stated was about English tailoring and ‘nation attraction’ by means of a French lens.
‘On the English facet we have now tailoring and a straightforward attraction, on the French facet that solidity of design and proportion that comes from by no means being happy as a result of one thing can at all times be finished to make it higher, extra refined,’ she stated. The present was additionally notable for certainly one of Westwood’s most notable moments, Naomi Campbell’s catwalk tumble in a towering pair of ‘Elevated Ghillie’ heels.
All through the Nineties and into the 2000s, Westwood would develop into certainly one of British vogue’s most notable exports. In 1996, Vivienne Westwood MAN launched with a present in Milan; in 1998, Anglomania grew to become its personal diffusion line; whereas boutiques opened worldwide, from New York to Tokyo. In 2004, Westwood was celebrated with an exhibition at London’s V&A Museum titled ‘Vivienne Westwood: 34 Years in Trend’, which was then the largest-ever exhibition devoted to a British designer. Having been made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1992, she was late made a Dame in 2006.
Westwood remained an avid activist all through her life, pioneering moral and sustainable manufacturing together with her collections, and supporting quite a few causes, NGOs and charities – from Greenpeace to the Humane Society Worldwide, which makes an attempt to stop gross sales of fur within the UK. In 2012 on the London Paralympics closing ceremony, she started Local weather Revolution which goals to unite numerous organisations within the pursuit of preserving the planet for generations forward. ‘I would like you to assist me save the world, I can’t do it alone,’ she stated.
Later in life, she took an more and more anti-establishment method, denouncing over-consumption and capitalism – which she referred to as ‘the basis of conflict, local weather change and corruption’ – and participating in quite a few protests. One explicit trigger was help for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Dressing as a yellow ‘canary’ she stood in a cage outdoors the Outdated Bailey courtroom in 2020, protesting towards Assange’s extradition from Britain to the US.
These pursuits will proceed with the arrival of The Vivienne Basis, introduced yesterday, which can run below 4 pillars – local weather change, cease conflict, defend human rights, and protest capitalism.
Kronthaler, who took over the Gold Label in 2016 – since renamed ‘Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood’ – will proceed to point out collections seasonally in Paris. ‘Vivienne nonetheless has the identical chunk and vitality,’ he instructed The Guardian in 2021, ’though just a bit slower. However I nonetheless depend on her completely: she’s the one individual I belief to say when one thing is nice, the one adviser and information I can observe.
’She [articulates] concepts I’ve not even had but. About vogue, sure, however greater than that: a approach to have a look at life.’