On 29th December 2022, Vivienne Westwood, one of the most influential figures in the fashion and denim industry, and an untiring environmental activist, died at the age of 81 surrounded by her family, in Clapham, South London.
“Vivienne continued to do the things she loved, up until the last moment, designing, working on her art, writing her book, and changing the world for the better. She led an amazing life. Her innovation and impact over the last 60 years has been immense and will continue into the future,” said her collaborators.
Westwood's design career started lo 1971 when she and partner Malcolm McLaren embarked on a joint design venture in London, a cultural hotbed of the era. Sex, the infamous shop on King's Road that since 1974 set the start and the look of the punk movement, showcased their creative collaboration that exuded a decidedly rebellious air and shunned the hippie looks in vogue at the time.
With the right attributes and attitude, Westwood spearheaded the punk movement in 1976. At the end of the '70s, she had already reached near-icon status and became the poster girl for the British avant-garde. In 1981, the designer held her first catwalk show at Olympia in London, and a few years later, Westwood's silhouette started to morph into the signature she has been known for until today.
Easing her rebellious streetwear tendencies, she turned to traditional English tailoring that is best exemplified by the skills found at Savile Row.
Straightforward tailoring didn't quite satisfy her expressive talent; British fabrics and 17th- and 18th-century art heavily influenced in her work. Westwood's distinctive orb logo, invented around this time, symbolized her desire to transport tradition into the future.
Throughout her career she created most different collections and projects including womenswear, menswear, prèt-à-porter, accessories, jewels and jeanswear collections, including the brand Anglomania.
In 2006, the redheaded fashion maverick was appointed Dame by Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth in recognition for her contribution to British Fashion, while she constantly committed herself in defense of the environmental and climate change causes along with other beneficial social causes globally like, the s/s 2022 Made in Kenya collection.
Among various recognisements she achieved, in October 2021, within the 13th Florence Biennale, Westwood attended a ceremony in the Tuscan city to accept the “Leonardo Da Vinci” Lifetime Achievement Award, an acknowledgement also granted to previous winners including Marina Abramovic, Christo, Franco Zeffirelli, Anish Kapoor and David Hockney, in recognition of her revolutionary fashion production and for having conceived and promoted innovative campaigns with the aim of protecting earth.
Late in 2022, Westwood, her sons and granddaughter founded The Vivienne Foundation, a not-for-profit company, that will officially launch in 2023 to honor, protect and continue the legacy of the designer’s life, design and activism.
The Foundation is built upon four pillars–Climate Change, Stop War, Defend Human Rights and Protest Capitalism–and has the goal to raise awareness and create tangible change working with NGOs, in order to create a better world and implement Westwood’s plans.