Provocative, activist and revolutionary, Dame Vivienne Westwood will be always remembered as the undisputed queen of punk and British fashion but also as an inspiration for all those mature women who don’t give up.
Her instantly-recognisable aesthetic and loyal dedication to making clothes flatter real women’s bodies saw her become a true icon within the industry, but the legendary fashion designer, who has recently passed away aged 81, has been much more than this.
Outspoken human rights/climate change activist, and unconscious late bloomer’s advocate, by showing us the power of multiple reinventions, she has cast a light on the importance of keeping daring, learning, and evolving over time, while challenging ageism and championing positive and realistic representations of ageing.
“People talk about having mid-life crises. Mine was at the age of 30“, she used to say. “After that, I didn’t care that I was no longer this nubile sex-object person.”
From pioneering punk to re-vitalising the corset, many of fashion’s biggest moments happened because of her. And yet, her talents went far beyond style.
Here is what we can learn from one of the crunchiest women of all time.
Don’t be afraid to go against the grain
Vivienne Westwood has never taken the easy route and has never been afraid to speak up and shock, at any age. Unapologetic, rebellious and always true to herself, she has dared to be different while challenging the status quo.
Throughout her life, she continued to push boundaries whether in love (choosing her third husband and creative partner Andreas Kronthaler 25 years her junior), in fashion or in activism (working against climate change, while encouraging consumers to buy quality, not quantity).
Take inspiration from anywhere
Vivienne Westwood has famously borrowed from styles throughout the ages to create collections, blending historical references, classic tailoring and romantic flourishes with harder-edged and sometimes overtly political messages inviting us to be as eclectic as her.
Whether it’s a total rebrand of your image you’re looking for in midlife or a way to turn the page and begin a new chapter in your life, Vivienne showed us it’s never too late to start over again as long as you are brave enough to leave your comfort zone, change and evolve.
Changing our environment, learning something new and breaking the routine of our daily life, we’ll encourage the flow of ideas and increase motivation.
Believe in yourself
Considered a late bloomer, Vivienne Westwood found her real groove a bit later in life, launching her first runway show aged 41. For Vivienne (who used to be a primary school teacher), a complete aesthetic vision and the ability to execute new work within it took decades to cultivate.
“I keep using this word — invest,” she said when talking about maturity and creativity to Interview. “The way you think about and understand your experiences. You can change your mind quite radically, of course, but I expect the older you get, the less you change your mind, because your way of seeing things is more solid. Solid in a good sense, meaning that everything keeps connecting, and when you make a point, it’s got the basis of all that experience.”
When it came to social and political matters, Vivienne was always at the forefront. She knew how to make a statement and stood up for what she thought was right. Her story shows us that only by embracing our beliefs to the core and speaking up against prejudice and injustice we can really make a change.
She taught us that, no matter where we come from, we all need to take action because the future is ours and we need to accept our responsibilities and stop normalizing issues we clearly know affect our state of living and ageing.