Vivienne Westwood: Life and Legacy


Kaley Gottschling, Staff Writer

 The remarkable English fashion designer, Dame Vivienne Westwood, passed away on Dec. 29, 2022, leaving behind a huge impact on the fashion industry.

Vivienne Westwood was born in the UK in 1941 and became a self-taught designer. Westwood is referred to as the “Queen of punk” because of her rebellious clothes and style, causing her to rise to fame in the 70s. BBC News states “Vivienne Westwood gave birth to punk, conquered high fashion, and built a global empire.” 

Vivienne created extraordinary and rebellious fashion pieces throughout the years. Her first fashion show was in 1981, the collection was named “Pirates.” These looks consisted of unique hats and puffy clothes. Her debut gave the public so many iconic moments. Such as,  Kate Moss walking down the runway topless in a napoleon-style hat, and eating ice cream. In 2012, Vivienne took the runway, wearing a climate revolution shirt. She used her clothing to make statements. Vivienne stated, “The main message we want to get out there is that climate change is caused by the rotten economic system. If we don’t change public opinion, we’re going to have mass extinction of the human race very, very quickly.” She was very passionate about climate change. She even arranged a flash mob in the London streets to protest against fracking, a controversial extraction from the earth to acquire natural gas.

Several celebrities have taken to social media to pay their respects to the “Queen of Punk”. Marc Jacobs, a fashion designer, said Vivienne had an “incredible style with brilliant and meaningful substance. I continue to learn from your words, and all of your extraordinary creations.” Bella Hadid has an immense love for Vivienne’s work. She shared on Instagram, how from the first day she met her to the last day she saw her, Westwood made her “smile, listen, learn and love more than the day before” and how she will forever be grateful to have “been in Vivienne’s orbit” because as Hadid states, to her and most, in fashion & in humanity, she “was the sun.”

 At the beginning of her career, she was an elementary school teacher and worked in a punk boutique, yet at the end of her career, she was a legendary fashion designer. Vivienne truly had a huge impact on many people. She was a creative, intelligent, unique human being and she said, fashion is “a philosophy of life”. It is a practice that will change your life, yourself, and perhaps the world.” She believed in being the change in the world and that mindset will continue inspiring people for many years to come.