Vivienne Westwood, provocative British dressmaker, dies at 81

Vivienne Westwood, the provocative British dressmaker who endured for greater than half a century as a mode icon and environmental activist, serving to dress the Seventies punk motion earlier than dressing supermodels on the runways of Paris and Milan, died Dec. 29 within the Clapham part of southwest London. She was 81.

Her loss of life was announced by her namesake trend home, which didn’t cite a trigger.

Ms. Westwood grew from an enfant horrible right into a grand dame of the style world, bursting onto the London scene within the Seventies when she helped gown punk rockers just like the Intercourse Pistols with leather-based jackets, ripped shirts and security pins. She later moved into couture design, creating outfits that have been exhibited in museums all over the world, whereas experimenting with flamboyant pirate shirts and petticoats, tweed corsets and pinstripe tailoring.

All through her profession she linked trend to politics, leveraging her fame to advertise environmental causes, nuclear disarmament, vegetarianism and efforts to battle local weather change. She emblazoned her shirts, jackets and clothes with activist slogans — “Politicians R Criminals” and “We’re not disposable” — and urged her viewers to purchase much less, no more, unveiling a unisex line in 2017 with the hopes that women and men might share the identical garments, together with capes and tutus.

“Unisex might sound like a joke, however, actually, it’s all about styling and having the ability to gown nevertheless you want,” she advised the New York Times that yr at a London Trend Week occasion. “Swapping garments along with your accomplice means you should purchase much less, select properly and actually make them final.”

Ms. Westwood was initially recognized for presiding over a boutique on London’s King’s Street with Malcolm McLaren, who turned the supervisor of the Intercourse Pistols. “I used to be messianic about punk,” she later recalled, “seeing if one might put a spoke within the system in a roundabout way.”

She maintained that anarchic sensibility lengthy after she was embraced by the institution, posing for the duvet of Tatler journal in 1989 in an Aquascutum swimsuit that she mentioned was supposed for Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Three years later, when Queen Elizabeth II awarded her the Order of the British Empire, Ms. Westwood — who was later named a Dame Commander — shocked photographers by twirling to indicate off her outfit, a tailor-made skirt swimsuit that she wore with sheer tights however no underwear.

“I’ve an in-built perversity,” she mentioned in an interview for the e book “England’s Dreaming” by Jon Savage, “a sort of in-built clock which reacts in opposition to something orthodox.”

Vivienne Isabel Swire was born in Glossop, an English city east of Manchester, on April 8, 1941. Her mom, a seamstress who made her personal garments, favored normal fare for her three kids; Ms. Westwood mentioned that she started to dabble in trend when her mom allowed her to pick her personal garments. She chosen a good skirt and heels.

Ms. Westwood briefly attended Harrow Artwork College after which went to a trainer’s coaching faculty, touchdown a job as a schoolteacher. Her marriage to Derek Westwood, a dance corridor supervisor, led to divorce, and within the mid-Nineteen Sixties she started a relationship with McLaren, with whom she collaborated as a designer.

Collectively they riffed on the slim-tie, gelled-hair trend model of the Nineteen Fifties “teddy boys,” whereas additionally drawing on biker tradition and sadomasochistic imagery. Underneath the slogan “Garments for Heroes,” they designed leather-and-zipper clothes and “bondage” shirts with sleeves that wrapped round like a straitjacket. One T-shirt confirmed Queen Elizabeth II with a security pin piercing her lip.

Their store cycled via a number of names, together with Too Younger to Die and Too Quick to Reside, however the one that the majority caught the general public’s consideration was Intercourse. The identify appeared in bloated pink letters above the door.

In 1981, they launched their first runway assortment: gender-neutral garments that evoked pirate imagery and Nineteenth-century trend. The model turned a part of the post-punk New Wave scene after it was adopted by pop stars Adam Ant and Boy George.

Ms. Westwood quickly dissolved her partnership with McLaren, and went on to create designs together with the mini-crini, a shortened model of the Victorian crinoline, and a light-weight corset designed to be worn on the skin of an outfit, which helped spark a ’90s pattern towards underwear as outerwear. In current many years, she used her identify for an increasing array of retail partnerships, together with teas units, hats, jewellery and fragrances.

She opened her first U.S. boutique in Los Angeles in 2011.

Survivors embody her husband of 30 years, Austrian designer Andreas Kronthaler; a son from her first marriage, erotic photographer Ben Westwood; and a son with McLaren, Joseph Corré, who co-founded the lingerie model Agent Provocateur. Further particulars on survivors weren’t instantly accessible.

In 2008, a Westwood wedding ceremony gown turned a centerpiece of the “Intercourse and the Metropolis” film when Sarah Jessica Parker’s character, Carrie Bradshaw, decides in opposition to a Vera Wang gown in favor of Ms. Westwood’s billowy silk-and-taffeta. Ms. Westwood was unimpressed with the remainder of the garments featured within the movie, later saying: “I went to the premiere and left after 10 minutes.”

When it got here to her personal picture, she typically opted for comparatively uncomplicated outfits to go along with her distinctive bright-orange hair. “My trend recommendation,” she advised the Times in 2009, “is to have a flattering mirror at residence after which neglect about it.”

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