A guide to living inspired by Vivienne Westwood’s life, creations, and musings.

It has been more than a month since punk legend and fashion icon Vivienne Westwood passed away. Ever since, stories and tributes dedicated to the dame of the fashion world have flooded different media platforms. And CLAVEL wants to carry on with sharing her trailblazing voyage. 

At a time when Vivienne Westwood’s iconic punk fashion has been making a resurgence through today’s pop culture, it is truly dismal to think that she would not be able to see the impact of her work and words from 50 years ago on the newer generations.

“I would like to be the last person on Earth. I’d like to know how it works out.” —Vivienne Westwood

Undoubtedly, Vivienne Westwood left this world a legend, but her legacy wasn’t only to the world of fashion. Her whole journey and perspective as a stylist, as an activist, as a woman, and as a human being created this majestic fiery symbol of living life unapologetically—leaving marks that could spark the inner flames of the youth and the young at heart. 

Here are lessons that we can take from the scintillating life of Vivienne Westwood.

 

You might be intimidated by the hundreds of historical creations from Vivienne Westwood throughout the years. But you have to remember the difference in circumstances between Vivienne and yourself.

It’s alright to create for therapeutic or financial reasons. After all, those are important to survive these times. But when you have the time, remember who you are as an artist. 

Whether it’s creating clothing, writing stories, designing props, making songs, or producing films—once in a while, create something out of your own passions, thoughts, beliefs, and advocacies. Experience what life has to offer and use those experiences to experiment with your art. And if you haven’t found your voice yet, these can serve as your stepping stones or help you discover a new one.

“I always design for a parallel universe; a world that doesn’t exist. You know, one that’s like this but better.”—Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood has always believed in clothes enhancing the experience of life. And her designs have always been rooted in her sense of activism to create a better society for everyone. And although there was a time when she tried to pursue her other dream of being a school teacher, she never forgot what she can offer to the world—making it a better place through her art.

 

Vivienne Westwood is the Queen of Punk Fashion. And it’s not just because she is the reason for its existence, but also because she introduced streetwear to the world—clothing worn by marginalized communities and garments influenced by the underground scene.

Westwood, along with her husband at the time, Malcolm McLaren, weaved their experiences as part of the community through the clothes they made. 

“It wasn’t as much about, ‘We are selling you a commodified version of you,’ but, ‘We are of you, for you, by you.’”— University of Georgia fashion history professor Dr. Monica Sklar on punk fashion

The clothes Vivienne and Malcolm made naturally resonated with the underground scene and street community—all because they know what it’s like to be them. Unintentionally, they started a fashion revolution; a historical movement. And this is what made their brand authentic. 

Vivienne Westwood was never afraid to be herself despite the impositions of society. She continued to learn, explore, and create until she solidified a belief system of pushing for a better world. Not once did she hesitate to show her inner self in the way she talks, moves, and designs.  

A punk at heart, she unknowingly became the voice of disillusioned changemakers in fashion. Ripping up rule books, styling with her mind, deconstructing designs, and initially creating clothes out of necessity—Vivienne Westwood started a movement: a space for people like her to freely express themselves.

“If you’re too big to fit into fashion, then you just have to do your own fashion.”—Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne was a pioneer—a punk before “punk fashion” was invented. The anti-fashion fashionista. Vivienne was real and so was her image. And aside from the help and support she had at the time, being real was a big factor in how Vivienne found her footing in the fashion industry despite not having formal training. 

“I did not see myself as a fashion designer but as someone, who wished to confront the rotten status quo through the way I dressed and dressed others. Eventually, this sequence of ideas culminated in punk.”—Vivienne Westwood says in her self-titled memoir back in 2014. 

And maybe that’s what it would be like for you. No matter what your dreams and goals are in life: sometimes it’s best to not care what other people think and keep it real.

 

Vivienne Westwood has always been vocal about her activism and there is no denying that. 

In the 70s, Vivienne designed provocative pieces, which questioned the conventions and spurred discomfort. Her clothes were sold at the fashion boutique named SEX, a store that was almost like a second home for the band Sex Pistols.

SEX was also once called “Let It Rock”, where they sold vintage urban clothing and shirts with anti-system messages. Later on, when the Sex Pistols’ song “God Save the Queen” was banned, Vivienne Westwood renamed the store to “Seditionaries” and designed the infamous “Destroy” shirt

Through the years, Vivienne noticed that the essence of her clothes is getting lost because of “rebels without a cause.” There were people who only wore her clothes for aesthetic purposes and did not fully understand the message behind her fashion. 

This is when Vivienne realized that fashion is more than just clothes, it is a statement. She then continued to make clothing lines that are responses to her previous works.

In her book, Get A Life: The Diaries of Vivienne Westwood, Vivienne shares her involvement in politics and the environment through fashion.

“I call the diaries ‘Get a Life’ as that’s how I feel: you’ve got to get involved, speak out, and take action.”—Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne was also one of the first fashion designers to join the fight against capitalism in clothing and climate change. As a person who has a life revolving around garments and fabric, it takes great humility to acknowledge the waste and downside of fashion at a time when it’s not talked about enough.

“To me, a hero is somebody who’s prepared to stick their neck out, to step out and walk tall, and to live life. That’s how I see a hero.” —Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne was fearless and unbothered during her time: being unequivocal on what she stood for—either through her work, activities, or the campaigns she joined such as advocating for LGBTQIA+ rights. How? By printing two men having sex on a shirt and simply breaking gender dress codes. 

Without people like her back in the day, it might not be possible for us to be more vocal about our advocacies today. And may we share the same fire that Vivienne had to fight for what we believe in and inspire future generations.

 

Like Alice in Wonderland, jump into a rabbit hole and talk to flowers in the golden afternoon. Read books, ask questions, and see the world through the eyes of a child. This is how Vivienne Westwood lived her life. 

Vivienne greatly values intellectual curiosity, especially in the youth. And she tries to stay as young as possible because she knows that there’s a difference between a child and an adult in coasting through life. 

She made it a must that she wouldn’t stop learning, wouldn’t stop asking, wouldn’t stop exploring. She stayed curious until the end. And this is also the reason why, even though many birthdays of her have passed, she continued to be progressive.

“You’ve got to invest in the world, you’ve got to read, you’ve got to go to art galleries, you’ve got to find out the names of plants. You’ve got to start to love the world and know about the whole genius of the human race. We’re amazing people.” —Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne was eternally young. She saw the world with childlike wonder—with this vivacity and moxie that’s so uncontainable that it bubbles out and radiates to those people around her. 

Up until the very end, she believed in the possibility of a world different from the one we’re living in—an optimistic thought many of us have let go of as we grow old.

“I think little children of Alice’s age, especially girls, have something special about them – they’re so open to ideas and so curious about things. They’re the most delightful people to talk to and get involved with… I do find, like Carroll did, that when children reach a certain age…they start to get a bit boring… They’re not looking at the world or trying to be unconventional or willing to stick their necks out in any way.”—Vivienne Westwood

It was even from a child on a train that Vivienne got her inspiration for designing the Harris Tweed collection in the 80s.

“She couldn’t have been more than 14 years old. She had a little braided bun, a Harris Tweed jacket, and a bag with her ballet shoes in it. She looked calm and dignified.” —Vivienne Westwood, The Independent magazine in 2011

Like Vivienne, maybe it’s time that we listen to the stories around us, traverse the unknown to ourselves, and never stop seeing the world with whimsy.

 

Vivienne Westwood lived fearlessly, genuinely, and unapologetically. She broke barriers, defied social conventions, and relentlessly committed herself to the beauty of human beings. 

She was never afraid of being herself despite what others thought of her; despite all the backlash she received. She remained unbothered like the queen she is and dedicated her work to making others feel like this, too: proud of who they are and confident in their skin.

“Anyone who wants to feel romantic about themselves. If you ever wished you were 6 feet tall and you weren’t, you just wear some of my clothes and that’s what you’ll feel like.”—Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne was brave enough to take risks. Unlike any other designer during her time, Vivienne’s craft was fantastical and her vision was surreal. Her ability to bring this surreality to life and into her clothing was what separated her from the rest.

This is why whoever wears her clothes can feel the luminescence Vivienne aims to highlight in every individual. And hopefully, Vivienne could be an inspiration for every one of us to live fearlessly, genuinely, and unapologetically—wherever we may be, whoever we may become, in this world we thrive to live in.

 

Follow CLAVEL on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok for news, culture, and more.

A Session With crwn

Give Old Clothes A Chance at GOD 4

BUM Black Army’s New Line: A Statement In Earth Tones