The fashion world is in mourning. Vivienne Westwooda key figure in British fashion who had a profound impact on the 1970s, died on Thursday, December 19, at the age of 81. The news fell on Instagram, where her relatives posted a snapshot of the designer taken by famous fashion photographer Juergen Teller, as well as a preview of the press release announcing her passing. “Vivienne Westwood died today, peacefully surrounded by her family in Clapham, south London”, is it listed in the caption.
Bruised by mourning, his loved ones and his communication team continued by taking stock of his long life, marked by the establishment of his mark and his irreverence which earned him the nickname of “child terrible of fashion” : “Vivienne continued to do the things she loved, until his last breath, creating, working on his art, writing his book and changing the world for the better. She lived a fantastic life. His spirit of innovation and his impact over the past 60 years will have been immense and will continue into the future.” And to conclude with these few poignant words: “The world needs more people like Vivienne to change things for the better.”
Vivienne Westwood, her crazy debut
How to talk about British fashion history without first talking about the name of Vivienne Westwood ? mythical emblem of the punk current and baroque dresses, bright orange hair, crazy collections passing chains and safety pins with a strong commitment to ecology… In the fifty years since the launch of her first boutique in 1971, the designer has never ceased to shake up the rules of haute couture.
Born in April 1941 in Tintwistle, Derbyshire, she is the eldest of a family of three children. Her passion for sewing anchored in her body, she packed her bags at the age of 17 and left her native village for London, where she joined the current University of Westminster, then called Harrow School Art. But the reality of life brings her back down to earth and the young Vivienne decides to become a teacher in a primary school until 1971. The more the years pass, the more her passion for life sets her apart, with her crazy outfits and her outings until the end of the night. It was during one of those trips that she meets Malcolm McLaren, the manager of the Sex Pistols. Love at first sight is immediate.
Together, the producer and Vivienne Westwood open a shop, for which the young woman makes her own clothes. His inspirations are resolutely punkcreating outfits straight out of the changing rooms of bikers and fetish prostitutes. What appeals to members of Sex Pistols, who wear his creations on numerous outings. The young designer presented her first fashion show in 1981 on the theme of Pirates. Success is at the rendezvous, and the collections are linked according to her obsessions: she has thus a period Tatler girls between 1988 and 1992, as indicated by Vogue, then it is the years Anglomania from 1993 to 1999 and finally the period Exploration since 2000. We will also remember his “green” years, marked by his campaign Save the Arctic in 2012.
A worldwide reputation
In 2005, his career is already such that it is the subject of a retrospective at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Three years later, Vivienne Westwood imagines Carrie Bradshaw’s wedding dress in Sex and the City. Its trademark logo of a planet surmounted by a cross pulls out at high prices in all the cities of the world, which allows him to launch four different labels for its collections : Red Label, Gold Label, Anglomania and Man. At the same time, Vivienne Westwood is developing its line of perfumes, composed of four fragrances. ultimate consecration : Elizabeth II awarded her the title of Dame in 2006 for her contribution to British fashion.
On the private side, we only know two official love stories for the stylist. Around 1959, she met Dereck Westwood running a nightclub. Charmed, she marries him in July 1962 and together they have a son, named Benjamin Westwood. Their story, however, ends in 1966, a year after Vivienne Westwood met Malcolm McLaren. Of their love born his second son Joseph in 1967. The producer died of cancer of the pleura in 2010, in Switzerland.
Photo credits: RINDOFF-BORDE / BESTIMAGE