Remembering an Icon: Vivienne Westwood ‘the Godmother of Punk’

Remembering an Icon: Vivienne Westwood ‘the Godmother of Punk’

Born in 1941, Dame Vivienne Westwood revolutionised the realms of both beauty and fashion with her breathtaking talent. Her controversial and often provocative artistic attitude challenged aesthetics, offering an alternative and sexually liberating perspective. 

Westwood built controversy around her graphic tees and their risqué prints. She transformed costumes and portraiture from remarkable periods of history, into her iconic looks. As time went by, and with frequent collaboration with makeup talent Val Garland, Westwood’s experimental looks adopted the essence of punk through the use of bold shadows, which were confident in shape and colour. It’s no coincidence that she identified herself as the ‘godmother of punk’; a nickname stemming from her passion for and involvement with the subgroup. Her playful and nonchalant approach to beauty and fashion dominated the industries, paving the way for greater inspiration and confident attitudes.

We revisit a collection of her most iconic looks, unpacking her eclectic and rather eccentric influence on the world of beauty.

A Closer Look into Vivienne Westwood’s World

There’s no doubt in mind that Westwood advocated for individuality in her life; from her powerful stance towards sustainability and fighting climate change, to her political protests, provocative runway shows and her embodiment of the punk aura. Her shows embraced controversy, with legendary models such as Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell parading the runway while smoking cigarettes. A satiric approach to historical periods of time was reflected through her choices in hair and makeup. Her inspiration frequently stemmed from the Elizabethan era, meaning hair was styled long and curly while prioritising texture and accessorising with exaggerated hats and bows. 

Makeup honoured the traditional Elizabethan pale canvas by heavily powdering the models’ faces. To create contrast, she took cues from the punk movement emphasising the lips and eyes with bold brushstrokes and eccentric hues. Thin eyebrows were favoured and all with one purpose in mind; to shock through her looks. This attitude solidified her approach to having fun and not taking life too seriously. On other occasions, Westwood reimagined the 1700s, taking inspiration from paintings during the era, creating a vintage feel through monochromatic looks. At other times, she channelled the 80s, recreating Hollywood glamour with bright, red lips, bold brows and voluminous hair.

The brand

Vivienne Westwood centred her brand around activism and fighting for what she believed in. She created a platform through which beauty and fashion would raise awareness on sustainability; a notion Westwood was passionate about. She melded beauty and activism into one, combining the two most important things she stood for. In doing so, Westwood highlighted the ability to transmit important beliefs and notions through art. Beauty and fashion are more than just unleashing one’s creativity, but the creativity to fight for what one truly stands for.

Remembering an Icon: Vivienne Westwood ‘the Godmother of Punk’
Photo from PA Media

A Thank You Note

LOAD pays homage to the pioneering fashion designer; an activist and an icon in both her personal and professional life. She was raw, unfiltered, and unedited in her approach to creation. She created from the heart, confidently submerging herself into controversy, sensualism and intrigue and emerging as the queen of punk to fuel the rising movement. Her outspoken, free-spirited approach to both industries as well as life overall, were deeply admired and will remain engraved in the memories of all.

Dame Vivienne Westwood: an expression of revolution; an embodiment of vigour.

Written by Stella Georghiou

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