Tributes have poured in following the death of Dame Vivienne Westwood, the pioneering British fashion designer, at the age of 81.
Westwood died “peacefully and surrounded by her family” at home in Clapham, south London on Thursday evening, her representatives said.
The designer made her name on London’s fashion scene in the 1970s and was widely credited with bringing punk style into the mainstream.
Fellow designer Marc Jacobs said he was “heartbroken” and that Westwood “never failed to surprise and to shock”.
Paying tribute to her life and work, he wrote on Instagram: “You did it first. Always. Incredible style with brilliant and meaningful substance. I continue to learn from your words, and, all of your extraordinary creations.”
Born in Derbyshire in 1941, Westwood and her family moved to London in 1957, where she attended art school for one term.
She met band manager Malcolm McLaren in the 1960s while working as a primary school teacher and after separating from her first husband, Derek Westwood. Together, Westwood and McLaren went on to open a small shop called Let It Rock on the King’s Road in London’s Chelsea in 1971.
The business was later renamed Sex, and McLaren began managing the Sex Pistols, a punk rock band that shot to fame in 1976 wearing Westwood and McLaren’s designs.
After the Sex Pistols broke up, the two held their first catwalk show in 1981. Westwood eventually began to forge her own path in fashion, splitting from McLaren in the 1980s.
Her influential designs often incorporated traditional British fabrics including tweeds and tartans. Images drawn from the British monarchy and from French Rococo painting, which she discovered at the Wallace Collection museum, also featured prominently.
Westwood wore a sober grey suit to receive an OBE at Buckingham Palace in 1992, but caused a sensation by posing for photographers outside and twirling around in her skirt without underwear.
“I wished to show off my outfit by twirling the skirt. It did not occur to me that, as the photographers were practically on their knees, the result would be more glamorous than I expected,” Westwood later recalled. “I have heard that the picture amused the Queen.”
Westwood was made a dame for services to fashion in 2006.
Even as her fashion empire grew, Westwood maintained an anti-establishment spirit. Her slogan T-shirts helped to raise awareness for a range of causes, from pollution to climate change. She was also an outspoken supporter of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Following the announcement, Westwood’s husband and creative partner Andreas Kronthaler said: “I will continue with Vivienne in my heart. We have been working until the end and she has given me plenty of things to get on with.”