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The Gamut

Vivienne Westwood Leaves a Lasting Legacy Behind

Rowan Lee

Following a generation-defining career in the global fashion scene, Dame Vivienne Westwood, known as the mother of punk and British fashion, died Dec. 29, 2022 at the age of 81. The fashion designer was pivotal in the direction of London’s punk movement and British high fashion, using innovative runway collections to inspire political activism during her five-decade-long career.  

Westwood first entered the fashion scene with her husband, Malcolm McLaren, manager of the 70s punk band the Sex Pistols. As the band’s stylist, Westwood spearheaded the growing punk counterculture in London with her radical, unconventional designs adorned with torn fabrics, razor-sharp spikes, and immodest, provocative slogans.  

Together with McLlaren she opened up a King’s Road boutique, selling risqué and oftentimes ostentatious clothing that contrasted with the conservative views of British society. Her refusal to adhere to the norm pushed punk fashion into the global spotlight. 

Soon into the 1980s, Westwood shifted her focus to the glamourous world of haute couture, debuting her first collection, “Pirates,” in 1981, drawing attention with its thematic tie to 17th and 18th century Romanticism with oversized tops and Buccaneer trousers. Following “Pirates,” Westwood split with McLaren and started her eponymous label, and her success within the decade skyrocketed her into becoming one of Britain’s most treasured designers.

1993’s “AngloMania” is arguably her career-defining collection, taking conventional British clothing and adding Westwood’s personal flair in its “punky” tartan fabrics and flamboyant silhouettes. 

After several successful runway collections and being given the title of Dame by Queen Elizabeth II, Westwood pursued active protest regarding climate issues, bridging the gap between fashion and political activism. In 2016’s Spring/Summer show for “Vivienne Westwood Red Label,” models closed the runway holding signs labeled, “fracking is a crime,” “austerity is a crime,” and “climate revolution,” drawing much-needed attention to the climate crisis. 

Her influence reaches far and wide — from her embrace of punk style to redefining British fashion, Westwood’s boundary-pushing artistry still echoes in modern fashion. Portrait corsets, which have been associated with Westwood for decades, regained popularity in the fashion world alongside the menswear resurgence of the pearl necklace, another Westwood staple. Celebrities such as Zendaya and Olivia Rodrigo walked red carpets in Vivienne Westwood, further solidifying her impact on the fashion scene.

“Dame Vivienne Westwood was an extraordinary talent: an innovative and influential designer, and an iconoclast who pursued every belief and passion with a rare fervor,” said Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue. 

Though glittering pearl necklaces and sophisticated corsets may be the image of Vivienne Westwood today, beneath the brand is an influential designer, fashion icon, and non-conformist whose efforts in influencing punk and British fashion will forever be respected. 


About the Contributors
Nathan Perera, Staff Writer
Nathan Perera will be beginning his second year in Gamut as a writer. He enjoys writing A&E, alternating between scathing reviews to praiseful columns. Writing is at the heart of Nathan’s passion, having first joined the Gamut to become part of a group of people that shared his love for writing. In addition, he is also the Vice President of the Creative Writing Club at Oxford Academy. Outside of school, he enjoys thrillers and dramas in the form of both books and TVs. “Cruel Summer” is among his favorite TV shows. He also enjoys alternative rock and pop. Lana Del Rey is his favorite artist, and his favorite album from her is Norman F. Rockwell. When asked what he likes most about her songs, he admitted he loved everything about it, ranging from their attractive visuals to heartfelt lyrics. Nathan is excited for the rest of his time in Gamut and Oxford, and he will continue to follow his passion for writing. 
Rowan Lee, Art/Layout Editor
Aside from finally graduating, Rowan Lee is looking most forward to serving as The Gamut’s Art and Layout Editor for their final year of high school. Their go-to hobbies are drawing and painting: an explanation as to why they immediately applied to join The Gamut staff after learning there were drawing positions available, along with their having illustrated for The Gamut for the past 3 years. Outside of the Gamut, Rowan takes their fascination with Japanese culture to the OA Japanese Club, where they serve as Tech Chair. When they’re not busy taking on their various roles at school, drawing fanart for Jujutsu Kaisen (their favorite anime of all time), or jamming out to their 3-hour long SE SO NEON playlist, Rowan guiltily admits that they spend their free time playing Valorant or watching VTubers (virtual YouTubers). Rowan honestly confesses that their Senioritis has been kicking in since Junior year, but as the diligent worker they are, they vow to push through till the very night they toss their cap into the air at Handel Stadium.
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Vivienne Westwood Leaves a Lasting Legacy Behind