Fans mourn passing of the priestess of punk

Vivienne Westwood was an influential designer who made waves in the
fashion industry. “Vivienne Westwood Life Ball” by Manfred Werner/
Tsui is licensed under CC BY 3.0.


Vivienne Westwood was an influential designer who made waves in the fashion industry. “Vivienne Westwood Life Ball” by Manfred Werner/ Tsui is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

Starting out as a primary school teacher and making her way up to designing Carrie Bradshaw’s wedding dress, Vivienne Westwood has proven that working-class girls can indeed make a living in the art world.

Westwood, known as the priestess of punk in the fashion industry, was an icon known for her rebellious fashion designs that defied societal standards. She was widely credited for the popularization of punk and new wave styles in the 1970s and 80s, and even after her untimely death on Dec. 29, 2022, her brand continues to make an ever-growing impact. Westwood’s death was a shock not only to the fashion world, but to her fans across the globe who were devastated to hear that such an influential and beloved designer had passed away.

Westwood first made her splash in the fashion business when she began collaborating with her husband Malcolm McLaren, bringing the clothes they designed to life. Westwood and McLaren got their first big break when the Sex Pistols wore their designs while being at the forefront of the punk scene growing in England. By the early 80s, the punk scene Westwood initially found success in was dying, and her marriage with McLaren had come to end in divorce. With this, Westwood continued into the world of high fashion independently, receiving immediate acclaim after her first runway show, “Pirates.”

Westwood’s fusion of activism and out-of-the-ordinary style made her stand out from the world of high fashion. Westwood spoke highly about bringing awareness to climate change and overconsumption, coining the term “buy less, choose well, make it last.” Along with being honored with the Good Energy Award in recognition of her environmental activism, Westwood founded the Climate Revolution, a foundation that encourages individuals to join forces and take action against big businesses.

Sophomore Cate Stanziola of Tinton Falls spoke about her appreciation of Westwood bringing sustainability and uniqueness to the mainstream.

“She broke a lot of rules when designing her looks, she didn’t make fashion to please everyone, she made it for a purpose,” Stanziola said.

Following Westwood’s death, many close friends and acquaintances remembered her passion and brilliance with sentimental ributes. Patti Smith, punk pioneer and poet, paid tribute to Westwood at her show at the Brooklyn Steel in New York by dedicating her song “Redondo Beach” to her.

“The world needs people like Vivienne to make a change for the better,” Smith said.

Gwen Stefani, frontwoman of the ska-punk band No Doubt and solo pop artist, was often spotted in Westwood’s designs and even referenced Westwood in some of her biggest hits. When Gwen Stefani heard of Westwood’s passing, she immediately took to social media.

“My heart hurts to hear of the passing of legendary @viviennewestwood who always made an impact in not just fashion but pop culture,” Stefani stated in a tweet. “I’ll never forget wearing my first piece of designer clothing and it being a piece from Vivienne Westwood.”

It wasn’t just celebrities who were shocked about the sudden passing of Westwood, the world was. Sophomore Charlotte Ross of Fair Haven recalled the moment when she unexpectedly found out.

“I was at a Surf Taco when my mom sent me a post on Instagram about Vivienne’s death and I almost dropped my burrito,” Ross said. “I’m curious to see where the brand will go from here, I’m a big fan.”

Westwood’s designs touched the hearts of many. Her fans believed and appreciated what she stood and designed for. When asked about the future of the brand, senior Laura Newbury of Wall expressed her feelings on her legacy.

“I think her name will live on for sure.”