Star designer Vivienne Westwood died on Thursday at the age of 81.
Laszlo SchneiderEditor People
Around the world, people from music, acting and fashion mourn Vivienne Westwood († 81). The star designer “fell asleep peacefully” yesterday, Thursday, at old age. The Briton stood for fashionable punk like no other – for the Zurich fashion expert Jeroen van Rooijen (52), Westwood even “the second queen died” this year, as he says Blick. You have never understood fashion “only as a surface and design tool for the body”. For Westwood, clothing has always been “the bearer of a message,” explains the style expert. Her fashion was a statement on social change, especially between the 1970s and 1990s.
The fashion designer, who offended her colleagues, has one thing in particular: “She asked her consumers to buy less and more consciously,” says van Rooijen. That was always daring, but also right. Above all, the Zurich native says: “What Westwood did was not just fashion, but above all activism.”
“You can’t ride a wave better than that”
Vivienne Westwood shaped the fashion world – “and she did it on her own. She was in a league of her own: “Westwood was a single mother and never let herself be taken over by one of the usual luxury companies,” explains van Rooijen. Such veterans, who above all have never gone bankrupt, “there aren’t many anymore”. It goes with the fact that she brilliantly implemented the zeitgeist with the emerging punk in the 1970s: “She was the one who dressed the band Sex Pistols – and noticed that people find fetish clothes, studded belts and safety pins disturbing.” Nevertheless, she was able to turn it into a successful business, he explains. “You can’t ride a wave better than that.”
Westwood later became calmer, and over time her fashion had almost become part of the establishment – “something she has always resisted”. That’s why other fashion statements about environmental protection, consumer culture and freedom of expression have become more important with age, says van Rooijen. It is clear to the expert who will now take over Westwood’s fashionable and socio-political legacy – she has “secured her successor for life”: she married her most talented student Andreas Kronthaler (56). According to the expert, there is no need for an actual replacement: “At some point you will hire a young figurehead again – but there is no hurry.”
Messages of grief from all over the world
Many former companions expressed their dismay at the designer’s death. Model and fashion designer Victoria Beckham (48) paid tribute to the British woman’s work, as did rock star Billy Idol (67), who wrote on Twitter: “Rest in peace. It’s going to take a while to process.”
Model Bella Hadid (26) wrote in an Instagram post: “Queen of punk: You made me smile from the day we met. This is for the coolest, funniest, most incredible, humble, creative, […]man who ever lived.”
Yoko Ono (89), the wife of the murdered Beatles member John Lennon (1940-1980), also published a photo showing her with Westwood.