Designer and campaigner Dame Vivienne Westwood has died at the age of 81.
Dame Vivienne, who was largely responsible for bringing modern punk and new wave fashions into the mainstream, passed away yesterday (December 29).
She came to public notice when she made clothes for the boutique that she and Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren ran on King’s Road, which became known as SEX.
Dame Vivienne opened four shops in London and eventually expanded throughout Britain and the world, with many items used to promote her political causes such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, climate change and civil rights groups.
During 2015 she visited Thanet on the political trail to support Queen Charlotte pub landlord Nigel Askew in his general election bid for a seat under the banner of the Reality Party.
She visited Ramsgate, opening the organic food focused Evolution Café in King Street which served people during the election campaign and was funded by her son Joe Corré.
Dame Vivienne also visited The Garden Gate Project and Margate Old Town – touring the isle by double decker bus.
Earlier this year she attended the opening of artist Tracey Emin’s ‘A Journey to Death’ exhibition at the Carl Freedman Gallery in Margate.
Among those who met Dame Vivienne during the General Election visit was isle artist Dan Thompson, who said: “Spending a day with Vivienne, it was easy to see why she was such a star. She gave everyone she met time, and listened to what they said – lots of people in Thanet will have fond memories of that day.”
Vivienne Westwood was born in the village of Tintwistle, Derbyshire on 8 April 1941, to parents Gordon Swire and Dora Swire.
In 1958, her family moved to Harrow and Vivienne took a jewellery and silversmith course at the University of Westminster, then known as the Harrow Art School, but left after one term. After taking up a job in a factory and studying at a teacher-training college, she became a primary-school teacher. During this period, she created her own jewellery, which she sold at a stall on Portobello Road.
In 1962, she met Derek Westwood, a Hoover factory apprentice, in Harrow They married on 21 July 1962; Westwood made her own wedding dress. In 1963, she gave birth to son, Benjamin.
Her marriage to Derek ended after she met Malcolm McLaren. The pair moved into Thurleigh Court in Balham, where their son Joseph Corré was born in 1967. Westwood continued to teach until 1971 and also created clothes which McLaren designed. McLaren became manager of the punk band the Sex Pistols, and subsequently the two attracted attention as the band wore Westwood’s and McLaren’s designs. From there Vivienne Westwood’s fashion business grew globally with her clothing worn by customers including celebrities and royals.
Dame Vivienne was a campaigner, particularly for nuclear disarmament, social justice and climate change, and had supported Labour before eventually becoming a Green Party backer in 2015 and then once more supporting Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn in 2017.
In 1992, Vivienne Westwood was awarded an OBE, and then a DBE in the 2006 New Year’s Honours List for services to fashion.