Vivienne Westwood turns 80: Her most mind-blowing fashion moments

Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne Westwood
7:30am, Thu 08 Apr 2021
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Punk icon, environmental activist and designer extraordinaire Vivienne Westwood celebrates her 80th birthday on April 8.

She emerged on the fashion scene in the 1970s, with her androgynous designs, slogan t-shirts, and irreverent attitude towards the establishment.

Since then, Westwood has continued to break boundaries. She’s responsible for some of fashion’s most famous designs – including her take on the corset, the ‘mini-crini’ – a shortened version of the Victorian crinoline dress – and Carrie Bradshaw’s bridal dress in the 2008 Sex And The City movie.

Westwood has also made a name for herself as an activist, staging public protests to raise awareness around causes close to her heart. As she turns 80, these are just some of her most exuberant fashion moments…

Receiving her OBE…

Vivienne Westwood

When awarded an OBE in 1992, Westwood wore a perfectly tailored skirt suit with a grey matching hat. The outfit might have been demure, but she soon started twirling for photographers – only to reveal she wasn’t wearing any knickers underneath. She later told the Daily Mail: “I met a man who worked with the Queen and he said she was rather amused by it.”

Vivienne Westwood

Westwood returned to Buckingham Palace in 2006 to be made a dame, and was once again without underwear – but she refrained from doing any twirling this time. She told the Daily Mail: “Don’t ask. It’s the same answer. I don’t wear them with dresses”.

At the opening of her V&A exhibition…

Vivienne Westwood at the opening of The Vivienne Westwood Exhibition at the V&A Museum

In 2004 the V&A Museum dedicated an exhibition to Westwood’s designs, and she attended the opening in suitably provocative style: wearing a red coat dress that clashed with her vibrant orange hair, and two tiny silver devil’s horns atop her head.

At the Fashion Awards…

Vivienne Westwood British Fashion Awards

Westwood has won multiple gongs at the Fashion Awards – including designer of the year twice – and for the 2009 ceremony, she played around with proportions in a vibrant orange jacket with big shoulders and a sleek chiffon dress underneath with a revealing slit.

Collaborating with Burberry…

In 2018, Westwood collaborated with another giant of British fashion: Burberry. Westwood appeared in the campaign alongside Kate Moss, wearing the iconic Burberry check with her signature platform shoes and wild hair.

Protesting fracking…

Vivienne Westwood

Westwood often brings an element of performance to her protests – in December 2018 she protested fracking by dressing as an angel clutching a stone tablet, reframing the 12 Days of Christmas as the 12 days until climate collapse.

Vivienne Westwood at an anti-fracking demonstration

In 2014, she also shaved her signature orange hair to protest climate change.

In a yellow suit…

In 2020 Westwood protested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition hearing by wearing a bright yellow suit and climbing inside a cage. She told journalists she chose yellow because canaries could detect poisonous gases in mines. She said: “If the canary died they all got out. Julian Assange is in a cage and he needs to get out. Don’t extradite to America.

“I’m wearing yellow because he still hasn’t had any sun. A canary is a beautiful thing and wants to fly.”

Dressing up in lockdown…

While most of us have been languishing in sweatpants for the past year, Westwood has continued to dress up – and her outfits have been documented on Instagram by her husband and design partner Andreas Kronthaler. Whether it’s a revealing sculptural outfit…

… or one of her classic corset designs, Westwood shows age is no boundary to having fun with fashion.

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