Vivienne Westwood: A Tribute

The fashion designer Vivienne Westwood was born Vivienne Isabel Swire on April 8th, 1941, in the English village of Tintwistle. At the age of 17, she left to study at the Harrow School of Art in the University of Westminster. Before becoming a designer, Westwood had a job in a factory and was studying at a teacher training college. During that time, she began creating her own jewelry, which she had sold on Portobello Road in London.

Westwood’s first public notice was when she made clothing for recording artist and fashion designer Malcolm McLaren’s boutique. This is when her career began and people started recognizing her work. Westwood created many groundbreaking designs during her six decade-long career and inspired a generation of fans. She wore her own designs on the catwalk as well as in real life.

The first time she gained notoriety as a designer was during the 1970s and ’80s, and she came to be known as an iconic creator. She helped define the punk and new romantic scenes and played with historic styles such as crinoline and the corset. Through it all, she also gave birth to two sons, Joseph Corré in 1867 and Ben Westwood in 1981.

Though Westwood was a very intelligent and hard-working woman, she never expected that a working-class girl such as herself could make a living in the art world. She did a lot more than just that, however. After her first Paris show in 1983, fashion critics credited Westwood for the revival of the British fashion scene. And in 2006, Queen Elizabeth II made her a dame for services to fashion.

After Westwood passed away on December 29th, 2022, the tributes that poured in were another testament to the legacy she left behind. Designer Donatella Versace stated on Instagram that Westwood “gave generations of young people new codes to express themselves,” and designer Marc Jacobs noted her incredible style and the brilliant, meaningful substance of her work. Model Bella Hadid posted on Instagram that she was grateful to work with Westwood.

“From the first day I met you to the last day I saw you, you made me smile, listen and love more than the day before,” Hadid wrote. “I will forever be grateful to have been in your orbit , because to me and to most, in fashion & in humanity, you, Vivenne, were the sun.”