Updated: Mar 14
The late Vivienne Westwood was a trailblazer in the fashion world. She not only popularized punk fashion in the UK and the world, but she used her designs to create tangible change in the world. Westwood was not just an artist- she was an activist.
This list will highlight THREE times Vivienne Westwood used her designs to bring bout change.
1. "DESTROY" TEE 1977
Westwood designed and wore a tee shirt with both a swastika and an inverted cross on the front. This design turned many heads and upset many onlookers. The commentary of the piece was to make a statement against dictators of the world. The designer was born in the midst of World War II when nazism and fascism was at an all time high.
“We don’t accept your values or your taboos, and you’re all fascists.” Said Westwood.
2. “ECOTRICITY” FW 2017
Westwood’s runway show was centered around climate change, a topic of great passion from the designer, and how the fashion world contributes to harmful waste. In this act of protest, Westwood called out luxury brands and their unsustainable methods of producing popular designs. The designer purposely had both men and women walk the runway together as a way to make a statement about doing less to save more leading to the same result. The protest primarily focused on promoting renewable energy and cutting down on fossil fuel.
3. "VIVIENNE'S TANK"
the process of injecting liquid at high pressure into subterranean rocks, boreholes, etc. so as to force open existing fissures and extract oil or gas
Vivienne Westwood was such a staunch activist against fracking that on September 11th, 2015, she rolled up to David Cameron’s constituency home in a protest against fracking…in a tank. Westwood partnered with Nans Against Fracking, an anti-fracking group founded in the UK in 2014. At the time of protest, 27 fracking licenses had been recently implemented in the UK. Although fashion was not a focus of this protest, Westwood’s creativity did not falter. The icon used the tank as a way to stage a “chemical attack” on Cameron to show the hypocrisy of the UK condemning chemical attacks in other countries while simultaneously attacking the UK with harmful gases.
Vivienne Westwood’s entire brand was about “sticking it to the man.” She did not stray from controversy if it means creating change. Whether it was about immigration or climate change, Westwood fought for her beliefs and her authenticity made each protest memorable. Westwood is remembered not only as a powerful designer in the fashion world but also a voice of the people. She will go down in history as one of the most influential artists and activists.