Vivienne Westwood, an influential vogue maverick who performed a key position within the punk motion, died on Thursday at 81.

Westwood’s eponymous vogue home introduced her demise on social media platforms, saying she died peacefully. A explanation for demise was not disclosed.

Westwood’s vogue profession started within the Nineteen Seventies with the punk explosion, when her radical method to city road model took the world by storm. However she went on to take pleasure in a protracted profession highlighted by a string of triumphant runway exhibits in London, Paris, Milan and New York.

The title Westwood grew to become synonymous with model and perspective whilst she shifted focus from yr to yr. Her vary was huge and her work was by no means predictable.

As her stature grew, she appeared to transcend vogue, together with her designs proven in museum collections all through the world.

The younger girl who had scorned the British institution ultimately grew to become one in every of its main lights, and he or she used her elite place to foyer for environmental reforms whilst she stored her hair dyed the brilliant shade of orange that grew to become her trademark.

Woman with bright orange hair.
Westwood, proven in 2007, was identified for years for her vivid orange shock of hair. (Benoit Tessier/Reuters)

Profession of contradictions

Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute on the Metropolitan Museum of New York, stated Westwood can be celebrated for pioneering the punk look, pairing a radical vogue method with the anarchic punk sounds developed by the Intercourse Pistols, who have been managed by her then-partner, Malcolm McLaren.

“They gave the punk motion a glance, a mode, and it was so radical it broke from something previously,” Bolton stated.

“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 is turn out to be a part of our vogue vocabulary. It is mainstream now.”

A model wearing a camoglage style jacket
Mannequin Grace Bol wears an outfit designed by Westwood at London Trend Week on Feb. 22, 2015. (Alastair Grant/The Related Press)

Westwood’s lengthy profession was filled with contradictions: She was a lifelong insurgent who was honoured a number of occasions by the Queen. She dressed like a young person even in her 60s and have become an outspoken advocate of preventing international warming, warning of planetary doom if local weather change was not managed.

She was additionally a vocal supporter of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

A woman wearing a yellow and black striped shirt stands in the centre of a group of protesters holding banners and signs, with her arms up.
Westwood, centre, poses for images throughout a protest to assist WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange exterior the Outdated Bailey, the central felony court docket in London, on Sept. 7, 2020. (Frank Augstein/The Related Press)

In her punk days, Westwood’s garments have been typically deliberately surprising: T-shirts embellished with drawings of bare boys, and “bondage pants” with sadomasochistic overtones have been normal fare in her well-liked London outlets.

However Westwood was in a position to make the transition from punk to high fashion with out lacking a beat, conserving her profession going with out stooping to self-caricature.

Work referred to as ‘provocative,’ ‘transgressive’

“She was all the time attempting to reinvent vogue. Her work is provocative, it is transgressive. It’s extremely a lot rooted within the English custom of pastiche and irony and satire. She may be very happy with her Englishness, and nonetheless she sends it up,” Bolton stated.

A kind 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 stated it was meant as a part of a press release towards politicians torturing individuals, citing Chile’s Augusto Pinochet. When requested in a 2009 interview with Time journal if she regretted the swastika design, Westwood stated no.

“I do not, as a result of we have been simply saying to the older technology, ‘We do not settle for your values or your taboos, and also you’re all fascists,'” she responded.

Model on a fashion runway wearing a colourful t-shirt
A mannequin wears a design by Westwood at London Trend Week on Feb. 21, 2016. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/The Related Press)

She approached her work with gusto in her early years, however over time she appeared to tire of the clamor and buzz.

After many years of designing, she generally spoke wistfully of shifting past vogue so she might focus on environmental issues and academic tasks.

“Trend might be so boring,” she advised The Related Press after unveiling one in every of her new collections at a 2010 present. “I am looking for one thing else to do.”

On the time, she was speaking up plans to begin a tv sequence about artwork and science.

Her runway exhibits have been all the time essentially the most stylish occasions, drawing stars from the glittery world of movie, music and tv who needed to take pleasure in Westwood’s mirrored glory. However nonetheless she spoke out towards consumerism and conspicuous consumption, even urging individuals to not purchase her costly, superbly made garments.

“I simply inform individuals, cease shopping for garments,” she stated. “Why not shield this reward of life whereas we now have it? I do not take the perspective that destruction is inevitable. A few of us wish to cease that and assist individuals survive.”

Westwood’s activism prolonged to supporting WikiLeaks founder Assange, posing in a large birdcage in 2020 to attempt to halt his extradition to the USA over the group’s launch of confidential U.S. navy data. She even designed the gown Stella Moris wore when she married Assange this previous March at a London jail.

Woman in a wedding dress standing in front of two red arm chairs.
Stella Moris, Assange’s companion, is photographed carrying her marriage ceremony gown designed by Westwood on March 23, 2022. The couple married at a London jail. (Dylan Martinez/Pool/Reuters)

World ‘a much less fascinating place’ with out her

Westwood was self-taught, with no formal vogue coaching. She advised Marie Claire journal that she realized the right way to make her personal garments as a young person by following patterns. When she needed to promote Fifties-style garments at her first store, she discovered outdated garments in markets and took them aside to know the minimize and building.

She met Malcolm McLaren within the Nineteen Sixties whereas working as a main schoolteacher after separating from her first husband, Derek Westwood. She and McLaren opened a small store 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 title and focus a number of occasions, working as “SEX” — Westwood and McLaren have been fined in 1975 for an “indecent exhibition” there — and “World’s Finish” and “Seditionaries.”

Close-up of a runway model wearing glasses with beads hanging off them.
A mannequin wears a creation designed by Westwood at her ready-to-wear vogue present in Paris on Oct. 2, 2021. (Vianney Le Caer/Invision/The Related Press)

Among the many staff at their store was Intercourse Pistols bassist Glen Matlock, who referred to as Westwood “a one-off, pushed, single-minded, gifted girl” in a press release to The Related Press.

He stated it was a privilege “to have rubbed shoulders together with her within the mid ’70s at what was the beginning of punk and the worldwide waves it created that also proceed to echo and resound at this time for the disaffected, hipper and wised up across the globe.”

“Vivienne is gone and the world is already a much less fascinating place,” Chrissie Hynde, the frontwoman of rock band the Pretenders and one other former worker, posted on Twitter.

A model wearing pink bubble wrap around her head.
A mannequin wears a creation designed by Westwood at her ready-to-wear vogue assortment in Paris on Sept. 30, 2017. (Francois Mori/The Related Press)