Legendary Designer Vivienne Westwood Dies at 81

The British designer was well known for defining punk style.


Iconic British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood passed away this Thursday at the age of 81. She died peacefully and surrounded by family, at her home in the South London neighborhood of Clapham. 

Well known for bringing punk into the mainstream, Dame Vivienne Westwood entered the London fashion scene in the 1970s, when she ran a boutique on King’s Road called Let it Rock. Together with Malcolm McLaren, the manager of the Sex Pistols, she sold pieces inspired by 1950s teddy boys and tailored drape jackets. The shop cycled through several names—Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die; Sex; Seditionaries; and World’s End—with the clothing sold often changing as well.

In 1981, Westwood launched her first catwalk collection with McLaren, made up of gender-neutral pieces inspired by pirate imagery. Shortly after, Westwood dissolved the partnership and began designing collections under her own name. She was often inspired by 17th and 18th century clothing, introducing items like the mini-crini, a reimagining of the Victorian crinoline. Other signatures included corsets, tartan, and tailoring. 

She has frequently used fashion as a platform to speak up about political issues. In her Spring/Summer 2006 collection, she showed shirts that read “I Am Not A Terrorist, Please Don’t Arrest Me,” and her Fall/Winter 2019/2020 show featured signs reading "What's good for the planet is good for the economy." In a tweet announcing her passing, the brand stated, “The world needs people like Vivienne to make a change for the better.”

Up Next, Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams Arrives in Tokyo