"The only reason I am in fashion is to destroy the word 'conformity' "

Vivienne Westwood

Paying tribute to the iconoclast, northern born fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. Vivienne Westwood's resilience to conform cemented her status as a well known Activist, Artist and Visionary. Among one of the greatest, Vivienne did what many designers and artists strive to do, never failing to surprise or shock and continued to challenge the world of fashion until the end. 

Vivienne Westwood learnt how to sew and cut as a teenager by taking apart second hand clothes and piecing back together. This method of deconstruction continued throughout her work, the need to break apart the pillars of convention is clearly depicted in her work. Vivienne's rise to fame began after she met sex pistols band manager Malcolm McLaren, the pair opened a shop in the 70's on the infamous Kings Road, which would later become known as 'SEX' selling fetish wear, slogan T-shirts and the now iconic trousers with zips from front to back. This resulted in Vivienne Westwood being responsible for bringing Punk, one of fashion's biggest movements into the mainstream. 

"I just use fashion as an excuse to talk about politics'

Vivienne Westwood

Of all the iconic pieces of Fashion Westwood contributed to, she is most famous for a few in particular. Her passion for history and change resulted in many innovative, shocking collections. After pioneering the way for Punk, she turned her hand to 'Pirate' commencing with her first fashion show in 1981 with Mclaren. The show consisted of ruffles blouses and blouson trousers, which would later be known as the 'new romantic' movement within fashion becoming a look of choice for pop stars such as Boy George. 

In the later 80's moved towards the pagan years, poking fun at the upper classes. This collection in particular consisting of looks that echoed British tailoring and aristocracy named the 'Harris Tweed collection' enabled Westwood to catapult the material onto the catwalks as a fashion fabric. Harris Tweed, originating from the outer Hebrides of Scotland is only fabric in the world protected by it's own act of parliament.

It is movements and iconic moments like this to why Vivienne Westwood paved the way for many of the greatest designers of the 21st century, from pioneering tweed and the heberdies for Alexander Mcqueen, to Underwear as outerwear for John Galliniano, and comically exaggerated body parts for Rei Kawakubo, Vivienne Westwood wide spread influence has had an enormous impact on the fashion world. 

As much as Vivienne is know for her evoking fashion, she has always used her platform as a way to showcase her political views. Her need for change has been apparent in every runway collection, a proud member and donator of the UK's environmentally focused green party, she has made the catwalk a place to  break boundaries and tackle subjects such as climate change, racism, struggles for equality and sustainability. 

"You've got to invest in the world, you've got to read, you've got to go to the art galleries, you've got to find out the names of the plants. You've got to start to love the world and know about the whole genius of the human race"

Vivienne Westwood

Among some of Vivienne Westwood's most iconic political movements there are a few that stand out 

  • Launching a climate revolution at the 2012 para Olympics
  • Supporting PETA in a campaign bid for vegetarianism
  • Poking fun at Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher by impersonating her on the cover of Tatler
  • Empowering ethnical fashion by helping the women of Narrobi
  • Fiercely apposing fracking, delivering a letter and box of asbestos to 10 downing street in protest
  • Showcasing “I AM NOT A TERRORIST, please don’t arrest me.” T-shirts in a bid to fight anti-terror laws 
  • Saying 'yes' to Scottish independence in her Red Label SS15 show

Up until the end Vivienne Westwood continued to challenge social constraints, Westwood wrote regularly on issues of climate and social justice on her website No Man’s Land. Her latest project been the Vivienne Foundation, A non profit company founded by Vivienne, her sons and granddaughter, which will officially launch next year in her honour. The foundations Aims to raise awareness and change , built on the pilers of Vivienne Westwood's legacy to tackle Climate change, Stop War, Defend human rights and protest capitalism. 

As one of our most beloved designers here at Larizia, we thank her for her incredible contribution to the fashion industry.

December 30, 2022 — Grace Walsh