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    Vivienne Westwood: The British Designer And Mother Of Punk Fashion Died At The Age Of 81

    Heaven just got its punk star! The fashion industry and punk were shaken by the news of the death of the fashion giant Vivienne Westwood. She was one of the cultural treasures, who gave wings to the punk movement in the United Kingdom in the 1970s. When the world was riddled with the oil crisis leading to inflation, the UK saw a rise in young dissenters against the monarchy. Vivienne was one of the pioneers.

    The designer’s label informed about the sad demise of Westwood. They wrote that she died doing what she always loved to do. Vivienne’s fabric became her voice after she dislodged herself from the punk movement, but she continued to reflect its values. From a primary school teacher to a self-learned designer, she gave the world some noteworthy designs. She backed causes affected by capitalism despite the nature of her vocation. Let’s go down memory lane to reminisce on how she reset the culture with her disrupting fashion.

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    Vivienne Westwood And Malcolm McLaren’s Meeting Proved To Be A Game Changer

    Vivienne Westwood with Malcolm McLaren
    Vivienne Westwood with Malcolm McLaren

    The United Kingdom received the biggest blow due to the Oil And Petroleum Energy Corporation (OPEC) crisis. The inflation affected the lives of the workers and unemployment reached its pinnacle. There was boiling rage inside every young person in the 1970s. The demurred youth wanted a channel to express their anger against the system. Across the Atlantic Ocean, garage rock gave birth to the pioneering bands that sowed the seeds for Punk Rock like The Stooges, The Velvet Underground, and MC5. In the U.K., Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren were the pioneers of the punk movement.

    Vivienne Isabel Swire was born on April 8th, 1941 in Tintwistle in a humble household. The family moved to London in 1957, where Vivienne pursued her education. Her mother, Dora ignited the fire of designing in her. Westwood went to Harrow Art School to pursue silversmithing. However, she changed her course and became a primary school teacher. But, she couldn’t keep herself away from the art world for long. She met her ex-husband Derek Westwood and got married. Nevertheless, the marriage did not work out.

    In 1963, she met Malcolm McLaren. The two were passionate about change through disruption and the monarchy fueled them. So, the two started a store in Chelsea, which became the breeding ground for the punk movement. In 1975, Sex Pistols were formed and Malcolm became the manager and Westwood became the stylist for the band. In 1974, when they renamed their shop ‘SEX’, it did not sit well with the “civil” people in Chelsea. But, that’s what they wanted to do—be a part of disruptiveness as an answer for the already dwindling state of the country.

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    The Designer Gave Birth To Punk Fashion

    Vivienne Westwood
    Vivienne Westwood

    Vivienne Westwood’s designs reflected the mood of the 1970s—depressed, dark, and destructive. There was a heavy influence of leather and nudity in her early designs. sadomasochism and politically fiery symbols became the themes of her designs. She designed a blasphemous design with a Swastika and an inverted image of Jesus on the cross with ‘Destroy’ written on it.

    The punk movement alive today still romanticizes goth tones. She told Time Magazine whether she has any regrets about producing the design. She said, “I don’t, because we were just saying to the older generation, ‘We don’t accept your values or your taboos, and you’re all fascists'”.

    The designer was young at heart regardless of her age. The display of angst and the dichotomy of the world she thrived in drove her designs with political motifs. She created a corset-inspired design with a mini-skirt commenting on the patriarchal tones of the corsets. It was Carlo D’Amario, the now CEO of Westwood’s design label who gave her commercial wings to fly. Vivienne and Malcolm created a collection together under their shop’s label called ‘Pirates’ which gave rise to the above-ankle length jacquard pants.

    Even after going mainstream, the politics she stood for strutted the runway. From the 2006 runway show for the fair trials of Guantànamo Bay prisoners to her support to WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, she displayed the root of her cause. A fiery activist, brilliant fashion designer has left her impact which will be indelible for ages to come.

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    Nishant Bhise
    Nishant Bhise
    Nishant Bhise is a Sub-Editor at FirstCuriosity. He has more than 2 years of experience in Entertainment content writing with the organization. Besides being a journalist and humanist, he loves cinema and intersectionality, basically everything that screams love, hope, and of course, Lady Gaga. Nishant loves and breathes popular culture, music, especially hip-hop and pop, and the royal family drama. Along with that, he takes great interest in the happenings in the technology world and politics. He is an LGBTQIA+ ally. Approach him with an apple juice to discuss Modern Family, Pose, and Schitt’s Creek.

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