Vivienne Westwood’s 9 most incredible, rule-breaking moments…

It has been announced that Dame Vivienne Westwood (opens in new tab) passed away on Thursday 29th December 2022. The news was broken via a post on the official Vivienne Westwood Instagram account. 

The announcement read, “Vivienne Westwood died today, peacefully and surrounded by her family, in Clapham, South London.

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. She led an amazing life. Her innovation and impact over the last 60 years has been immense and will continue into the future.

Vivienne considered herself a Taoist. She wrote, “Tao spiritual system. There was never more need for the Tao today. Tao gives you a feeling that you belong to the cosmos and gives purpose to your life; it gives you such a sense of identity and strength to know you’re living the life you can live and therefore ought to be living: make full use of your character and full use of your life on earth.”

The world needs people like Vivienne to make a change for the better.

In honour of her true ground breaking and iconic nature, we look back at some of Dame Vivienne’s best game-changing moments.

1. The Time She Ran Off With A Rebel…

Vivienne Swire was a primary school teacher who sometimes liked to make dresses. At 22, she was raising her first son, Benjamin, with her hoover factory apprentice husband Derek Westwood – and then she met Malcolm. The Sex Pistols’ notorious manager swept Viv off her feet, introducing her to bondage, bikers and other general badass-ness. The couple had a son, Joseph Corre, who went on to found Agent Provocateur and father the next Brit IT girl, Cora Corre.

Punk rock group "Sex Pistols" manager Malcolm McLaren and friend designer Viviane Westwood seen here outside Bow Street Magistrate Court, after being remanded on bail for fighting. (

Vivienne Westwood Malcolm

(Image credit: Getty Images)

2. The Time She Invented Punk Fashion…

Vivienne and Malcolm opened their legendary Kings Road boutique in 1971, changing the name every few years from Let It Rock, to Too Fast To Live, Too Young To Die and SEX (caps lock, locked on). In the height of hippie-chic, the shop’s USP was turning fetishes into fashion statements and sported the catchy tagline ‘rubberwear for the office’.

Clothing from the Seditionaries boutique on King's Road, London, 18th May 1977. Pamela Rooke (1955 - 2022), aka Jordan, and Simon Barker, aka Six, are modelling Sex Pistols 'God Save The Queen' T-shirts. Seditionaries, formerly known as Sex, is run by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

3. The Time She Plundered History…

When punk fashion became mainstream, Viv knew she needed a new angle. The whole point, after all, was to rebel. For her first ever catwalk show in 1981 Vivienne presented Pirates – a collection that kick-started the new romantic look and dominated 80s sub-cultures. It was anti-Dynasty, shock-and-awe styling, a whole mix of historical references mashed together in a single outfit. Fans from Boy George to Adam Ant loved her work.

Vivienne Westwood World's End Fashion show "Pirates", Autumn/Winter 1981-82, the first catwalk show of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, at Olympia, London, 22 October 1981.

Vivienne Westwood first runway show

(Image credit: Getty Images)

4. The Time She Forgot Her Knickers…

Vivienne received her OBE from the Queen in 1992 – wearing no knickers. No problem, thought our commando commander until she decided to celebrate with a spin in front of waiting photographers in the Buckingham Palace courtyard. Was One amused? The Queen lol’ed so hard that she promoted her to DBE in 2006.

British Fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood poses for photographers after collecting her ensignia from the Prince of Wales during an Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London, 09 June 2006. The designer, who was largely responsible for anti-establishment punk fashion, is known for her subversive and eccentric take on traditional British style. She caused a stir on her previous visit to the Palace in 1992 when she collected her OBE from the Queen wearing no knickers.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

5. The Time She Fell In Love With A Wunderkid…

Viv fell for a man half her age. Literally. Austrian fashion student Andreas Kronthaler was 25 and she was 50 when they met. ‘It’s very difficult to find a student who you’d give a 100 out of a 100 – maybe it’s possible, but I haven’t met them yet. But in the case of Andreas, he was completely off the scale,’ Vivienne would later say. The unconventional couple live and work together still and have been happily married for 22 years.

Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood (R) and Andreas Kronthaler acknowledge applause following the Vivienne Westwood show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2016/2017 on March 5, 2016 in Paris, France

Vivienne Westwood Andreas Kronthraler

(Image credit: Getty images)

6. The Time She (Almost) Broke Naomi’s Ankle…

When a young Naomi Campbell took a tumble in Viv’s 1993 runway show, fashion history was made. The offending design? A pair of 11-inch purple platforms, no less, has since been deemed museum-worthy.

7. The Time She Became An Eco-Warrior…

 Every true punk needs a good cause to champion and over the years Vivienne’s supported PETA, Aids Research, Oxfam and more. Her work as an environmental campaigner, particularly, is now renowned and she’s still working hard to make us use more sustainable materials and stop unethical supply chains in the fashion industry. She even dressed Lily Cole in a wild rubber dress at the punk-themed MET ball in 2013. ‘A dress with a purpose is probably as punk as you can get,’ Lily would later tell us.

Designer Vivian Westwood (R) and Lily Cole (L) attend the Costume Institute Gala for the "PUNK: Chaos to Couture" exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2013 in New York City.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

8. The Time She Embraced Pop Icons…

After years of campaigning against the mainstream, Viv decided in 2008 that, under her own terms, pop culture could be, well, cool. In two attention-grabbing moves, she appointed her unlikely BFF and fellow environmental activist Pamela Anderson to be the face of her label and scored a major Hollywood costume coup designing Carrie Bradshaw’s wedding gown in the Sex And The City (opens in new tab) movie.

Vivienne Westwood Sex and the City dress

Vivienne Westwood Sex and the City dress

(Image credit: Rex)

9. The Time She Shaved Her Head…

Viv shaved off her famous locks in March 2014, but, unlike Britney, our favourite dame had a purpose. According to her spokesman, ‘Vivienne cut her hair because we must all wake up to Climate Change.’ Nearly 50 years after she first broke the mould, our favourite fashion revolutionary is still on a mission to change the world for the better. A true original, we salute you.

Vivienne Westwood attends a protest march at the Fracked Future Carnival on March 19, 2014 in London, England.

Vivienne Westwood white hair

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Read our exclusive interview with Dame Vivienne Westwood (opens in new tab)