Trailblazing fashion designer Vivienne Westwood died on Thursday (Dec. 29). She was 81 years old.
The style icon’s fashion house shared the news via Twitter, revealing that Westwood died “peacefully and surrounded by her family, in Clapham, South London.” The statement added, “The world needs people like Vivienne to make a change for the better.”
Westwood was born in Glossop, England, on April 8, 1941, and was a schoolteacher when she married Derek Westwood in 1962. The couple divorced 1965, and shared a son named Ben. She soon met her brother’s friend, Malcolm McLaren, and began dating. They welcomed a son, Joe, and opened a small clothing store together that changed its name over the years, from Let It Rock and Sex to Seditionaires and finally, Worlds End. McLaren also managed the Sex Pistols, and Westwood became the band’s outfitter.
After her relationship with McLaren ended, Westwood created her eponymous brand which masterfully combined elements of history with a provocative, modern twist.
The designer rose to prominence in the fashion world in the 1970s, thanks to her anti-establishment punk styles and controversial, androgynous designs. The new wave style icon was also a passionate activist, and frequently channeled issues like climate change into her runway looks.