Vivienne Westwood Dies at 81

Vivienne Westwood Dies at 81

Vivienne Westwood, the iconic fashion designer credited with bringing punk fashion into the mainstream, has passed away. She was 81.

In a statement shared on social media, it said, "Vivienne Westwood died today, peacefully and surrounded by her family, in Clapham, South London." A photo of the designer was also shared alongside a quote that reads: "Tao spiritual system. There was never more need for the Tao today. Tao gives you a feeling that you belong to the cosmos and gives purpose to your life; it gives you such a sense of identity and strength to know you're living the life you can live and therefore ought to beliving: make full use of your character and full use of your life on earth."

Westwood was born in 1941 in the village of Hollingsworth, Cheshire. What began as a knack for jewelry making turned into her creating her own clothes, even sewing her own wedding dress for her first marriage. She eventually met her future husband and collaborator Malcolm McLaren, best known for being the manager of iconic punk band The Sex Pistols. She continued her career as a schoolteacher while creating clothes that McLaren designed on the side.

Westwood became a fixture in the U.K. punk scene, especially after opening up the legendary SEX boutique alongside McLaren. From scrappy sweaters to imperfect t-shirts, the pair's designs helped bring punk fashion to the mainstream. By meshing together her love for classical paintings with her out-of-the-box way of thinking about construction, as well as juxtaposing traditionally feminine silhouettes with her punk aesthetic, Westwood rose to prominence as one of the most innovative and transgressive designers in history.

In addition to her impact on the fashion industry, Westwood was an outspoken critic of climate change and consumerism, encouraging consumers to be mindful.

Westwood is survived by her two children, Ben and Joseph, and her husband, Andreas Kronthaler.

Photo courtesy of Samir Hussein/Getty Images for BoF VOICES