Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood has died

The British fashion icon has died at the age of 81. This was announced by her management in a statement on Twitter.

Vivienne Westwood is dead. She was 81 years old. The fashion designer died “peacefully and surrounded by her family in Clapham, south London” on Thursday, according to a statement on her Twitter profile. “The world needs people like Vivienne to bring about change for the better,” it said. A cause of death was not announced.

The Brit was one of the most successful designers of the past decades and is considered the “Queen of Punk”. With her eccentric creations and often provocative slogans, Vivienne Westwood inspired the fashion world and built up an international fashion empire.

In 1992 she was admitted to the Order of the British Empire, 14 years later Queen Elizabeth II made her a lady.

Her first creations were born out of necessity

The designer was born Vivienne Isabel Swire on April 8, 1941 in the small British town of Glossop. She was practically born with a feeling for fashion: her mother was a weaver, her father a shoemaker. But Vivienne first decided to train as a teacher and taught at a primary school in north London from 1961.

A year later she married toolmaker Derek Westwood. 1963 son Ben was born. The marriage ended in divorce in 1965. Vivienne Westwood had met and fallen in love with a friend of her brother’s. Malcolm McLaren became her life partner and the father of her second son, Joseph, who was born in 1967. As a mother of two, Westwood began tailoring her own clothes. She had been interested in fashion since she was a schoolgirl, but never pursued her passion. The Brit taught herself to sew by taking apart clothes and then sewing them back together.

McLaren, manager of the famous punk band Sex Pistols, turned this activity, which was born out of necessity, into a business idea. The couple opened one store after the other in London from 1971 and created new trends at just the same speed. This earned her, among other things, the title “Inventor of Punk”.

Vivienne Westwood: Her orange hair has long been her trademark alongside her eccentric creations.
Vivienne Westwood: Her orange hair has long been her trademark alongside her eccentric creations. (Source: Jonathan Brady)

Even then it was foreseeable that Westwood would like to be inspired by historical events or by certain social groups in her creations. With this in mind, the fashion designer launched her first professional collection on the catwalk in 1981. The title: “Pirates” – the intention: a farewell to the punk scene, when it was drifting more and more into the mainstream.

designer and activist

In the 1980s, as a guest professor at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, she met the Tyrolean Andreas Kronthaler, who was 25 years her junior. The two married in 1992 and have been in the fashion industry together ever since. “We worked to the end and she gave me a lot of things to carry on with. Thank you darling,” her husband said in a statement.

Andreas Kronthaler and Vivienne Westwood were a married couple and business partners.
Andreas Kronthaler and Vivienne Westwood were a married couple and business partners. (Source: Thibault Camus)

Vivienne Westwood was not only a fashion icon, but also an activist. She always makes interviews conditional on also talking about saving the earth. For 30 years she lived simply and modestly on £400 rent in a two-room council flat in Clapham, south-west London. It was only in 2000 that her husband Andreas Kronthaler was able to persuade her to move into their 1703 Queen Anne-style house.

Describing herself as an “eco-warrior,” Westwood championed the causes close to her heart through her collections and protests. When she announced in 2007 that she wanted to completely do without furs in her collections, she was one of the first luxury brands to do so. Commitments for the closure of Guantánamo Bay and against the construction of nuclear submarines and support for “Fridays for Future” were a matter of honor for her.