Vivienne Westwood, the iconic British designer who helped popularize punk fashion, died on Thursday. She was 81. The cause of death wasn’t immediately known.
“Vivienne Westwood died today, peacefully and surrounded by her family, in Clapham, South London,” according to a statement posted by her eponymous brand on its official Instagram page. “Vivienne continued to do the things she loved, up until the last moment, designing, working on her art, writing her book, and changing the world for the better.”
Born Vivienne Isabel Swire in Glossop, England, on April 8, 1941, Westwood gained notoriety in the 1970s as a proprietor of SEX, a London boutique she ran with the late Malcolm McLaren, who managed the legendary punk band the Sex Pistols. Her designs included bondage-inspired pieces and slogan T-shirts.
Westwood went on to become one of the biggest names in fashion, with shows all over the globe. She was an environmental and sustainability activist and was one of the first designers to use organic and recycled materials in her collections. Last year, a pearl necklace Westwood designed in 1987 became a TikTok phenomenon, worn by the likes of Bella Hadid, Dua Lipa, and Janelle Monae.
“I will continue with Vivienne in my heart,” Andreas Kronthaler, Westwood’s husband and creative partner, said in a statement. “We have been working until the end and she has given me plenty of things to get on with. Thank you darling.”
Westwood’s death evoked reactions from around the world.
"Vivienne Westwood is the woman that showed me I could do anything, I could wear what I wanted,” tweeted James Lee Williams, a popular Welsh drag queen who is better known by the stage name the Vivienne.
British television host Jonathan Ross tweeted a tribute.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, hailed Westwood as a "creative icon."