London Fashion Week 2023 Kicked off With a Vivienne Westwood Memorial

Organizers of this year’s London Fashion Week dedicated the event to the English designer and punk icon, who passed away in December 2022.

Prominent celebrities and influential figures in the world of fashion attended a memorial for Dame Vivienne Westwood, which was held at London’s Southwark Cathedral on the evening before London Fashion Week’s first day. 

Notable stars like Kate Moss, Dame Helena Bonham Carter, and Stormzy were in attendance. Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour and British Vogue editor Edward Enninful also came to pay their respects, along with designers Victoria Beckham, Dame Zandra Rhodes, and Erdem Moralioglu. As a tribute to the iconic designer, many of the attendees came dressed in some of Westwood’s most recognizable designs, which sported her signature tartan prints and bold colors. 

The British Fashion Council, which organizes the annual London Fashion Week, also announced that the entire five-day event would be dedicated to the legendary designer. 

Marc Jacobs and Victoria Beckham at Vivienne Westwood Memorial
Marc Jacobs (left) and Victoria Beckham (right) attending the memorial/Photo via Instagram @guardianfashion.
Dame Helena Bonham Carter at Vivienne Westwood Memorial
Dame Helena Bonham Carter attending the memorial/Photo via Instagram @guardianfashion.

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The Inimitable Priestess of Punk

Westwood left an indelible mark on British fashion, with her imaginative and rebellious designs that captured the spirit of punk in the 70s. At the time, the late designer’s boutique “Seditionaries”—which she established with her husband Malcolm McLaren—became a fashion haven for the British youth. She was also responsible for dressing members of the Sex Pistols and designing Carrie Bradshaw’s memorable wedding dress in Sex and the City: The Movie

Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne Westwood/Photo via Instagram @viviennewestwood.

Westwood would eventually establish an eponymous fashion empire composed of well-loved boutiques and collections for both men and women. In 2006, she was appointed Dame of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II for her contributions to fashion. She was also given the “‘Outstanding Achievement in Fashion” award by the British Fashion Awards in 2007. 

Fashion Disruptor

Besides being a fashion icon, Westwood was known—perhaps paradoxically—as a fashion disruptor. The late designer was an activist who always made her advocacies clear. During shows and on the runway, she would shed light on the issues that mattered most to her. Westwood was particularly passionate about the environment, and had an acute understanding of the detrimental effects of overproduction on the planet. 

“Our economic system, run for profit and waste and based primarily on the extractive industries, is the cause of climate change. We have wasted the earth’s treasure and we can no longer exploit it cheaply,” the designer once shared

Westwood Stop War Campaign
Promotional image for Westwood’s Stop War Campaign/Photo via Instagram @viviennewestwood.

The beloved fashion disruptor spent the rest of her life supporting hundreds of causes, non-governmental organizations, grassroot charities, and campaigns from organizations like Amnesty International and War Child and Liberty. She even started her own environmental movement, Climate Revolution, which rallied organizations to speak out against big businesses and political leaders engaged in acts that harmed the environment. 

A Lasting Impact

Dead doesn’t mean gone, and Westwood’s lasting legacy is proof of that. Some designers who attended the London Fashion Week shared their thoughts on the late fashion icon, underscoring her influence on their personal work. 

“She set such a high standard and she was fun to work with,” designer Paul Costelloe told Reuters. Matty Bovan—a designer whose clashing patterns and experimental silhouettes have been likened to Westwood’s signature style—shared in a brief interview with CNN: “Without Vivienne, I don’t think I’d be a designer.” 

“She is the embodiment of our extraordinary industry,” said David Pemsel, chairman of the British Fashion Council, to London’s Evening Standard newspaper. “It is only right and appropriate that we dedicate the entire week to her. We must celebrate her contribution as she was extraordinary and unique.”

Banner Photo via Instagram @guardianfashion.

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