In Remembrance of Vivienne Westwood



Photo courtesy of NPR

Mickle Joseph, Reporter

On Dec. 22, 2022, British punk fashion pioneer, Vivienne Westwood, passed away in Clapham Town, London, United Kingdom. Her designs have shaped fashion for decades and have started trends that people still wear today. Westwood has used her collections and catwalk shows as a platform for political activism. It’s easy to say that Vivienne Westwood is one of the most influential British fashion designers in the twentieth century. However, she hasn’t always been a high-fashion mogul. A look into her humble beginnings and an overview of her long-lasting career will allow her to remain within our memories for years to come.

On April 8, 1941, Dame Isabel Vivienne Westwood was born in a small village in Derbyshire, Twintistle, United Kingdom to a factory worker and cotton weaver. As a teenager, she and her family moved to London. In London, she trained to be a primary school teacher. However, in 1965, Westwood met Malcom McLaren, the future manager of the Sex Pistols. The two quickly formed a relationship and she even moved in with him. Together, they pursued a career in fashion. Her career officially started in 1971 as she began designing clothes, opening her first shop, ‘Let It Rock’ at 430 Kings Road.

“Ms. Westwood came to be known as the godmother of punk. After her partnership with Mr. McLaren ended, she began designing collections under her own name, and she soon established an international reputation,” said The New York Times

According to Vogue, Westwood had “little patience for propriety or prudery.” Her clothes were considered too provocative for the 1970s. However, her skin-showing clothes allowed for women to break away from the stifling modesty forced upon them during the 70s. Vogue also said Westwood “[wore] her political agenda on her sleeve.” The designer would print, knit, and pin manifestos all over the garments she would design.

Westwood’s collections have been worn by everyone from the general public to celebrities to even the royal family. Mia Naimi, a sophomore at Briar Woods High School, said that “one of [her] favorite pieces from Vivienne Westwood was her white gown that the actress Zendaya was shown wearing during the the 2022 Academy Awards. [She] loves how simple yet elegant this silk dress was.” Naimi also talks about what she thinks are some of Westwood’s best works. “Westwood’s 1994 Ready-to-Wear Fall/Winter collection that was featured on Vogue was one of her best works. This collection isn’t particularly my style of clothing, but how iconic, romantic, and colorful these clothes are, just makes them extremely captivating,” she said.

After everything Westwood has done in her career regarding fashion and activism, Sky Arts rated her the 4th most influential artist in Britain of the last 50 years. “Her works left an everlasting legacy and impact on clothing so this makes her worthy of this title, though some of my favorite artists did rank lower than her which makes me question her placement,” Naimi said. Whether you are a fan of her work or not, it’s hard not to admit that she was an influence to fashion and activism during her time and continues to be for future generations. May Vivienne Westwood rest in peace as her legacy remains in our memory.