Vivienne was a true originator, from the creation of punk clothing to the reinvention of historical dress and haute couture. She used her position as a designer and public figure as a platform for her activism and ideas. Her relentless campaigning on climate change over the last twenty years has been a catalyst for change; her slogan ‘Buy Less, Choose Well, Make it last’ is now a worldwide mantra for the fashion industry.
Vivienne became one of the world’s most famous designers. In 2021, she celebrated her 80th birthday. She was a sister, mother, grandmother, wife, Taoist, teacher, artist and activist.
With a career spanning over five decades, Vivienne was the recipient of numerous accolades and awards of both international and national acclaim. She was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II on the 9th June 2006 and was fondly amused by the Chinese translation, “Grand Dowager Empress of the West.
From the beginning of her work in fashion, Vivienne demonstrated an unwavering belief in creating true originality. Always avant-garde and at the forefront of cultural ideas. By combining artisan skill, graphic artwork and her choice of raw materials alongside an interest in historical dress, ethnic design and sartorial style, Vivienne successfully broadened the definition of how society thinks about fashion.
From her first catwalk show in 1981, Vivienne invited her global audience to learn about history and culture through her clothes. A born teacher, reader and intellectual. In her early career, before becoming a fashion designer, she began by teaching children at Brixton Primary school, South London. In later years, she became the Haute Couture professor at the Universities of Vienna and Berlin. She had an insatiable appetite for artistic ideas, which she was happiest demonstrating through her own creations.
Vivienne used her platform to enter into debate and dialogue on a myriad of subjects. Discourse with writers, artists, NGOs, politicians and leaders helped form her opinions and objectivity. Vivienne was always willing to change her mind and strategy, but never her objectives.
Vivienne came from humble beginnings and was self taught. She was fearless in the face of adversity, undaunted by criticism and driven by conviction; Vivienne maintained the belief that with sincerity of application everything is achievable.
She loved the writing of Aristotle, who said “the acorn is happy to become the oak”, meaning happiness in life comes from fulfilling ones potential.