Vivienne Westwood´s forever legacy

Her permanent mark on the fashion industry


Art by Olivia Papanicolaou

In 1941 in Glossop, Derbyshire, a revolutionary designer was born. Vivienne Isabel Swire, also known as Vivienne Westwood, was deemed the mother of punk, making her everlasting mark in the fashion industry. She was a major part of the punk movement,which promoted beliefs against conformity, consumerism and corporate greed. The idea of punk was to grasp attention from youth, promoting a rebellion against older generations. At its beginning, punk was identified with combat boots, leather, chains, studded accessories, shaved heads and mohawks.  

Westwood opened her first boutique in 1971, which was co-founded with Malcom McLauren, Westwood’s second husband and the manager of the rock band SEX Pistols. The boutique filtered through many names, but began with Let it Rock. Westwood started by designing Teddy Boy clothes for her partner McLauren. As her interests changed, the store was renamed Too Fast to Live Too Young to Die to match the biker clothing and leather pieces being sold. As the designers began to push more provocative slogans on t-shirts and clothing, they were forced to rebrand the store again because of their prosecution, made by the 1959 Obscene Publications Act. This was where SEX was born which was named after The Sex Pistols, as McLauren was their manager.  

The store’s name was changed again to Seditionaries,  transforming the pieces into what was named Punk Rock. After her split with McLauren and the fall of The Sex Pistols, Westwood was left renaming the store a final time to Worlds End in 1976. Each name brought about a different era in Westwoods’ career, and marked important accomplishments. Sadly, Worlds End closed in 1984.  Wanting to continue, Westwood’s mother continued to sew under candle light,  pieces from her daughter’s collection to keep the store alive. This gave Worlds End a final goodbye and kept its legacy alive.

Westwood is known for using a majority of her catwalks and runways to promote change and fight for a better world. Most importantly, she promoted the UKs environmentally-focused Green Party, which is a left-wind environmentalist party. She also launched a climate revolution along with allowing activists to participate in a number of runway shows. Today, Vivienne Westwood’s site states her mission on its main page for consumers to read. 

Constantly battling conventionality, Westwood pushed through and continued to promote her fashion throughout her whole life. Making her red carpet reappearance at the 2014 Grammys,  Westwood reminded the industry of her ongoing relevance as Pharrell Willams wore her iconic Buffalo Hat to the Grammys. She continued with many collaborations, including a recent one with Burberry that continued iconic British staple pieces.

On Dec. 29, 2022, Westwood passed away in Claphman, London. Westwood was said to have continued designing and creating art until her very last moment. Her legacy is promised to continue as Andreas Kronthaler, Westwood’s partner stated, “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.” 

Vivenne Westwood continues on in our memories and through her everlasting mark on the fashion industry.