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Dame Vivienne Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist

Dame Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood, who was 81, died yesterday. She was truly a designer’s designer. That’s a fact, not just a pretty turn of phrase. She was invited by Riccardo Tisci to collaborate at Burberry in 2018, and back in 1995 she created a bum bag at the invitation of Louis Vuitton, which was then celebrating the 100th year of its logo monogram. In photographs of her 1990s front rows the likes of Jean Paul Gaultier, Jean-Paul Goude, John Galliano, and Azzedine Alaïa are in the audience. Westwood helped birth Punk in the 1970s, and by the ’90s she was deep into her study of historical garments. So enchanted was she by the 18th century that her models often were often styled à la française with painted white faces and beauty marks (mouches), not to mention heaving bosoms.

Vivienne Westwood was one bad­ass designer. She was at the forefront of the British Punk movement in the 70s, with her partner at the time Malcolm McLaren (manager of the Sex Pistols) and was still rocking to this day. As well as a designer, Westwood was also widely known as a political activist supporting the Green Party in the UK. Here’s some of her most powerful, and inspirational quotes:

“I’ve always felt heroic about my life… As a child, I remember little girls in the playground moaning about how boys could do more than they could. I didn’t think that was the case at all. My parents didn’t treat me as a girl.”

“It is not possible for a man to be elegant without a touch of femininity.” “The sexiest people are thinkers. Nobody’s interested in somebody who’s just vain with a hole in their head, talking about the latest thing — there is no latest thing. It’s all rubbish.” “You’ve got to invest in the world, you’ve got to read, you’ve got to go to art galleries, you’ve got to find out the names of plants. You’ve got to start to love the world and know about the whole genius of the human race. We’re amazing people.” “Buy less, choose well.” “I think dress, hairstyle and make­up are the crucial factors in projecting an attractive persona and give one the chance to enhance one’s best physical features.”

Now its Vivenne Westwood: Punk, Icon Activist ..... The Movie

Set to celebrate the icon that is Vivienne Westwood, this documentary showed the life of the designer up close and personal. Including interviews from her closest friends and family, including Joseph Corré, the documentary was part fashion history lesson and part showcase of a legend. And considering Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist  played at the Sydney Film Festival in June.

RIP Vivienne Westwood .... or not !

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  1. I was lucky to know her well when she began . Sex was around the corner from where I lived in the worlds end . Witty , generous , curious and fearless her shop had a great juke box in the corner . While Malcolm had the Sex Pistols rehearing in a garage around the corner . She made a great outfit for me when I exhibited some pictures as part of the Wharp at the ICA . Another marvellous world . JUno Gemes

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