Vivienne Westwood, iconic fashion designer, dies at 81

Vivienne Westwood, an influential manner maverick who played a crucial position in the punk motion, died Thursday at 81.

Westwood’s eponymous style home announced her dying on social media platforms, declaring she died peacefully. A cause of demise was not disclosed in the assertion.

Westwood’s manner profession began in the 1970s with the punk explosion, when her radical strategy to urban road type took the planet by storm. But she went on to delight in a extended job highlighted by a string of triumphant runway shows in London, Paris, Milan and New York.

The title Westwood grew to become synonymous with model and mindset even as she shifted concentration from year to year. Her vary was large and her operate was never predictable.

As her stature grew, she appeared to transcend vogue, with her styles shown in museum collections in the course of the earth. The young girl who had scorned the British establishment finally became just one of its leading lights, and she used her elite placement to foyer for environmental reforms even as she retained her hair dyed the bright shade of orange that grew to become her trademark.

Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne Westwood watches rehearsals forward of her exhibit for the duration of London Manner 7 days at Royal College or university of Surgeons on Feb. 21, 2016 in London, England.

John Phillips / Getty Pictures


Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of New York, reported Westwood would be celebrated for revolutionary the punk seem, pairing a radical vogue strategy with the anarchic punk seems developed by the Sex Pistols, managed by her then-husband or wife, Malcolm McLaren.

“They gave the punk motion a search, a style, and it was so radical it broke from something in the past,” he claimed. “The ripped shirts, the security pins, the provocative slogans. She launched postmodernism. It was so influential from the mid-70s. The punk movement has never ever dissipated — it is become component of our manner vocabulary. It truly is mainstream now.”

Westwood’s long occupation was entire of contradictions: She was a lifelong rebel who was honored quite a few situations by Queen Elizabeth II. She dressed like a teen even in her 60s and grew to become an outspoken advocate of combating world wide warming, warning of planetary doom if local climate transform was not managed.

In her punk days, Westwood’s outfits have been typically deliberately stunning: T-shirts embellished with drawings of bare boys, and “bondage pants” with sadomasochistic overtones had been conventional fare in her popular London stores. But Westwood was in a position to make the transition from punk to haute couture with out missing a conquer, maintaining her vocation heading without the need of stooping to self-caricature.

“She was often seeking to reinvent trend. Her get the job done is provocative, it’s transgressive. It truly is very considerably rooted in the English tradition of pastiche and irony and satire. She is really very pleased of her Englishness, and nevertheless she sends it up,” Bolton mentioned.

A person of individuals transgressive and contentious layouts showcased a swastika, an inverted image of Jesus Christ on the cross and the term “Ruin.” In an autobiography published with Ian Kelly, she reported it was meant as section of a assertion versus politicians torturing people, citing Chile’s Augusto Pinochet. When questioned if she regretted the swastika design in a 2009 interview with Time magazine, Westwood reported no.

“I you should not, due to the fact we had been just saying to the more mature generation, ‘We don’t accept your values or your taboos, and you are all fascists,'” she responded.

She approached her function with gusto in her early many years, but in excess of time appeared to tire of the clamor and buzz. Soon after many years of designing, she sometimes spoke wistfully of moving past vogue so she could focus on environmental matters and instructional initiatives.

“Trend can be so boring,” she explained to The Linked Press just after unveiling a single of her new collections at a 2010 clearly show. “I am attempting to find a thing else to do.” At the time, she was talking up strategies to start off a tv collection about artwork and science.

Eleanore Beatty

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