Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute on the Metropolitan Museum of New York, mentioned Westwood can be celebrated for pioneering the punk look, pairing a radical style strategy with the anarchic punk sounds developed by the Intercourse Pistols, managed by her then-partner, Malcolm McLaren.
“They gave the punk motion a glance, a method, and it was so radical it broke from something previously,” he mentioned. “The ripped shirts, the security pins, the provocative slogans. She launched postmodernism. It was so influential from the mid-70s. The punk motion has by no means dissipated — it’s change into a part of our style vocabulary. It’s mainstream now.”
Westwood’s lengthy profession was stuffed with contradictions: She was a lifelong insurgent who was honored a number of occasions by Queen Elizabeth II. She dressed like a youngster even in her 60s and have become an outspoken advocate of combating international warming, warning of planetary doom if local weather change was not managed.
In her punk days, Westwood’s garments had been usually deliberately stunning: T-shirts adorned with drawings of bare boys, and “bondage pants” with sadomasochistic overtones had been normal fare in her well-liked London retailers. However Westwood was in a position to make the transition from punk to high fashion with out lacking a beat, retaining her profession going with out stooping to self-caricature.
“She was all the time attempting to reinvent style. Her work is provocative, it’s transgressive. It’s very a lot rooted within the English custom of pastiche and irony and satire. She may be very pleased with her Englishness, and nonetheless she sends it up,” Bolton mentioned.
A type of transgressive and contentious designs featured a swastika, an inverted picture of Jesus Christ on the cross and the phrase “Destroy.” In an autobiography written with Ian Kelly, she mentioned it was meant as a part of an announcement towards politicians torturing folks, citing Chile’s Augusto Pinochet. When requested if she regretted the swastika design in a 2009 interview with Time journal, Westwood mentioned no.
“I don’t, as a result of we had been simply saying to the older era, ‘We don’t settle for your values or your taboos, and also you’re all fascists,’” she responded.
She approached her work with gusto in her early years, however over time appeared to tire of the clamor and buzz. After a long time of designing, she typically spoke wistfully of transferring past style so she may consider environmental issues and academic tasks.
“Vogue could be so boring,” she advised The Related Press after unveiling considered one of her new collections at a 2010 present. “I’m looking for one thing else to do.” On the time, she was speaking up plans to begin a tv collection about artwork and science.
Her runway reveals had been all the time stylish occasions, drawing stars from the glittery world of movie, music, and tv who wished to delight in Westwood’s mirrored glory. However nonetheless she spoke out towards consumerism and conspicuous consumption, even urging folks to not purchase her costly, fantastically made garments.
“I simply inform folks, cease shopping for garments,” she mentioned. “Why not shield this present of life whereas we’ve got it? I don’t take the perspective that destruction is inevitable. A few of us want to cease that and assist folks survive.”
Westwood was a self-taught designer with no formal style coaching. She advised Marie Claire journal that she realized the right way to make her personal garments as a youngster by following patterns. When she wished to promote Nineteen Fifties-style garments at her first store, she discovered previous garments in markets and took them aside to know the lower and development.
“It was not a really environment friendly means of creating garments, but it surely was a good way for me to construct up my method,” she advised the journal.
Westwood was born within the Derbyshire village of Glossop on April 8, 1941. Her household moved to London in 1957 and she or he attended artwork faculty for one time period.
She met McLaren within the Nineteen Sixties whereas working as a major faculty instructor after separating from her first husband, Derek Westwood. She and McLaren opened a small store on the King’s Street in Chelsea in 1971, the tail finish of the “Swinging London” period ushered in by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
The store modified its identify and focus a number of occasions, working as “SEX” — Westwood and McLaren had been fined in 1975 for an “indecent exhibition” there — and “World’s Finish” and “Seditionaries.”
“Vivienne is gone and the world is already a much less attention-grabbing place. Love you Viv,” tweeted Chrissie Hynde, the frontwoman of the Pretenders and a former employee on the couple’s retailer.
Westwood moved right into a contemporary kind of designing along with her “Pirates” assortment, exhibited in her first catwalk present in 1981. That breakthrough is credited with taking Westwood in a extra conventional route, exhibiting her curiosity in incorporating historic British designs into up to date garments.
It was additionally an necessary step in an ongoing rapprochement between Westwood and the style world. The insurgent ultimately grew to become considered one of its most celebrated stars, recognized for reinterpreting opulent clothes from the previous and infrequently discovering inspiration in 18th century work.
However she nonetheless discovered methods to shock: Her Statue of Liberty corset in 1987 is remembered as the beginning of “underwear as outerwear” pattern.
She ultimately branched out into a variety of enterprise actions, together with an alliance with Italian designer Giorgio Armani, and developed her ready-to-wear Pink Label line, her extra unique Gold Label line, a menswear assortment and fragrances referred to as Boudoir and Libertine. Westwood retailers opened in New York, Hong Kong, Milan and a number of other different main cities.