Fashion Designer and Political Activist Vivienne Westwood Leaves a Lasting Legacy

Kristy Pinedo, Managing Editor

Mrs. Vivienne Westwood, who had a long and illustrious career in the fashion industry, sadly passed away on December 29, 2022, at the age of 81. Everyone involved in activism knew they had lost one of their most valuable contributors.

Vivienne Westwood was not only a fashion designer but a businesswoman and an activist. Westwood was mostly known for her designs on clothes as well as her jewelry. Westwood was born on April 8, 1942, in Tintwistle, United Kingdom. In spite of the fact that she began her career as a school teacher and a self-taught designer, she went on to become one of the most prominent fashion designers in Britain during the twentieth century. She was the epitome of the phrase “from rags to riches.”

Flowers were placed outside Viviene Westwood’s famous shop, “Vivienne Westwood Worlds End,” following her death
(photo: Wikimedia Commons)

She took many cues from the nonconformist punk aesthetic when designing her clothes. Going against the grain and doing what you want rather than what everyone else does was an appealing concept to her. She frequently drew from punk aesthetics because she saw it as a method to “confront the status quo.” She never let her popularity or success boost her ego, and she never lost her modesty. She deconstructed the original idea of punk by making “trash fashion,” a vehicle for highlighting global issues. Westwood’s style of thinking sparked a fashion revolution, with designers all over the world bringing political activism to the catwalk in the wake of her success. 

Vivienne Westwood was an idol and an inspiration in the fashion industry, and those interested in fashion know that she had an impact on their industry that most people would not have expected. Westwood had a profound impact on fashion, politics, music, and activism. She repeatedly utilized the runway to express her strong political beliefs, addressing everything from oppressive gender standards to fracking and industrial farming. She was most known for her daring avant-garde attire. Her fashion was made up of the use of traditional English clothing with punk, romanticism, and feminist elements; she is credited with inventing and popularizing modern punk and new-wave fashion.

Viviene Westwood
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

She used her fashion to support her activism, and she wasn’t afraid to express herself and her views to the public eye. She used her fame to expose topics that most would turn a blind eye to such as capitalism, feminism, climate issues, and issues involving war, just to name a few.

One of her strongest aspirations, the need to change global warming, inspired her to launch her own campaign movement, Climate Revolution. By thinking beyond the narrow confines of the fashion industry and focusing on issues that affect millions of people, not just the few who are interested in clothes, Vivienne Westwood forever altered the way fashion should focus its attention.

Westwood was one of the rare people in the world who put the needs of others ahead of their own; she left a legacy that few people ever accomplish. She was the moment, she was an icon, and she will remain a significant part of the history of the fashion industry. She will not be forgotten, and most importantly, she will be missed.