Punk Fashion Pioneer + Icon Vivienne Westwood Dies at 81

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Legendary fashion designer and punk rock image pioneer Vivienne Westwood has died at age 81.

She was “peacefully and surrounded by her family, in Clapham, South London,” per an official acknowledgement on her social media pages, which also states, “The world needs people like Vivienne to make a change for the better.”

Andreas Kronthaler, Westwood’s husband and creative partner, offers (via The Guardian), “I will continue with Vivienne in my heart. We have been working until the end and she has given me plenty of things to get on with. Thank you darling.”

For decades, Westwood has been an icon in the fashion industry and was active until her death, known not only for her creative designs, but for her activism as well, such as her outspokenness on climate change.

Born on April 8, 1941 in the village of Tintwistle, Derbyshire in Cheshire, England, Westwood took a brief interest in silversmith and jewelry courses at University of Westminster, but quickly dropped out and transitioned from factory worker to school teacher while also making her own jewelry. In 1962, she married Derek Westwood and they welcomed their son Benjamin a year later, divorcing in 1965.

She then met Malcolm McLaren (who went on to manage punk rock legends Sex Pistols) and the two welcomed their first son, Joseph, together in 1967.

In late 1971, McLaren renamed the Paradise Garage store he and a friend had operated in London’s Chelsea Market to Let It Rock, where the the rock ‘n’ roll merchandise and paraphernalia shop began to incorporate clothes designed by Westwood. In 1974 the name was finalized as SEX.

These speciality clothes outfitted Sex Pistols and merged the edgy politics, bold statements and brash attitude with the band’s raucous music.

Upon learning the news of Westwood’s passing, Sex Pistols guitarist Glen Matlock shared a black-and-white photo of the fashion icon and left a warm message: “I have just heard the sad news indeed about a one off, single minded, talented lady. A privilege to have rubbed shoulders with her in the mid ’70s at the birth of punk and the waves it created that still resound today for the disaffected. My thoughts are with her friends and family.”

Loudwires extends our condolences to the Westwood family and all who knew and loved her.

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