Remembering Vivienne Westwood’s Most Historical Fashion Moments | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

FILE - Models applaud as British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood salutes the public after the presentation of her Spring/Summer 2006 collection in Paris, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2005. Westwood, an influential fashion maverick who played a key role in the punk movement, died Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, at 81. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

Today December 29, acclaimed British fashion designer and disruptor Dame Vivienne Westwood passed away at the age of 81 in her home in London. The style icon created quite a stir during the 70s with her controversial new wave style which earned her the title “the high priestess of punk” and the “Queen of Extreme.” As the fashion world mourns the passing of the woman who gave birth to punk and conquered the high-fashion scene with her unorthodox and revolutionary style, we would like to pay tribute to one of the most influential designers of our time. 

The 70s

Vivienne Westwood entered the fashion scene when she opened a store with the creative partnership of Malcolm McLaren called Let It Rock which was later changed to SEX located in King’s Road, London.

The brand first started selling fetish wear–clothes ranging from bondage gear to massive platform shoes and even slogan T-shirts. Though these shirts were unlike anything previously seen in conventional fashion houses, Westwood’s seditionaries t-shirt showed disruptive graphics like the Queen with a safety pin and a bold red swastika with the word “destroy” which had become undoubtedly one of her most controversial designs.

Photo: Elisa Leonelli/Shutterstock

As the Westwood name became more prominent in the fashion scene, her designs slowly shaped the look of the era. Her provocative creations appeared on celebrities and well-known names, dressing The Sex Pistols and creating their iconic looks such as accessorizing with safety pins, chains and razor blades, straight jackets, and the famous “God Save The Queen ” shirts

Photo: David Dagley/Shutterstock

The 80s

Eventually, Westwood launched her first runway collection in 1981 called ‘Pirate’. This collection featured romantic looks with gold, orange, and yellow as a color palette with aesthetics reminiscent of a galleon ensuring the fashion house’s place in history. In the Spring/Summer of ‘85 Westwood introduced the Mini-Crini, a “short, bell-shaped skirt–another cheekily sexual garment that combined the outline of a child’s party frock with an abbreviated version of the Victorian crinoline.

Other revolutionary designs of the fashion house from the mid-1980s include the corsets-as-outerwear, a signature silhouette for the brand that continued until the end of her career.

Photo: Vivienne Westwood

One of her most important and most influential collections was inspired by a chance encounter on a train when she came across a little girl wearing a Harris Tweed jacket which birthed the Autumn-Winter 1987/88 collection. 

The 90s

During this era, the designer had already established herself as a style icon and was named Fashion Designer of the Year by the British Fashion Council two years in a row. She was listed in John Fairchild’s 1989 book ‘Chic Savages’ as one of the world’s top designers along with Armani, Lagerfeld, and Saint Laurent.

In 1992 Westwood made headlines when she was awarded Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) from the late Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace after a fashion faux pas. where she accidentally flashed photographers. 

The style icon wore a skirt suit with sheer tights and twirled for the camera where she accidentally flashed photographers after going commando. 

Sarah Jessica Parker on the set of the first Sex & The City film wearing a custom Vivienne Westwood Haute Couture Gown, 2008

It was in the same year that the fashion house introduced wedding gowns into her collection, which have since then become one of the hallmarks of the brand.

Photo: Conde Nast Archive/Vogue

Only a year after that Vivienne produced her own tartan for the ‘Anglomania’ Autumn-Winter 1993/94 collection and invented her own clan, MacAndreas–named after her husband and design partner Andreas Kronthaler. 

The 2000s

In addition to her work in fashion, Westwood became vocal on a number of social and political issues which had become more evident in her garments. She used her collections as a means of activism, to encourage consumers to think and react to social issues.

Photo: Vivienne Westwood

The designer advocated for climate change and over-consumption. Vivienne brought posters and facts to the runway to fight for Climate Revolution. The designer states “I formed Climate Revolution: to save the environment through work with charities and NGOs. Our target is to speak with one voice. As an activist, I have created many graphics promoting political and environmental issues, which I reimagined in the design of a pack of playing cards

Westwood has launched numerous collections as campaigns for activism to date.

Header photo courtesy of Michel Euler/AP