Remembering A Fashion Legend: Lily Cole’s Fond Memories Of Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood

In the ever evolving world of fashion, there are certain individuals who transcend trends and seasons, leaving an indelible mark on the industry. Undoubtedly one of these greats was “Vivienne Westwood”, known as the Queen of Punk. The reflections of those who knew her best continue to carry on her legacy, which goes beyond her ground breaking designs and support for sustainable fashion.

Today, we pay tribute to a fashion legend through the eyes of someone who shared a profound bond with her model, actress, and activist Lily Cole. She reminisced about her dear friend Vivienne Westwood, offering a glimpse into the personal side of this classic designer.

A Fashion Revolution: Vivienne Westwood

A renowned British fashion designer, Dame Vivienne Westwood was born Vivienne Isabel Swire on April 8, 1941. Her ground breaking designs have had a profound impact on the fashion industry. Vivienne Westwood is well known for having a distinctive and rebellious sense of style and for being one of the forerunners of punk fashion.

She and her husband, Andreas Kronthaler, had a long lasting relationship and worked creatively together, who serves as the artistic director of their fashion label. This partnership has spanned more than 30 years of their lives, marked by shared experiences and a deep connection both personally and professionally. Cole added, “The Amazonian wild rubber dress” that they have designed. This dress is likely a special and unique fashion piece, possibly inspired by the Amazon rainforest or its resources, such as rubber. This dress was intended for a high profile fashion event Met Gala 2013, known for its extravagant and innovative fashion choices.

To attend the punk themed Met Gala despite the inherent paradoxes, she accepted an offer from Vogue and travelled to New York on this day in April 2013. To reach as many people as possible, she and Andreas are here to deliver messages. “We’re here for the right reason!”, he encourages me while acting out how I might address the cameras about the rainforest in a playful manner.

Vivienne Westwood was not merely a designer; she was a force of nature who reshaped the fashion landscape. Her creations challenged the status quo, her punk inspired designs disrupted norms, and her unwavering commitment to sustainability blazed a trail for a more eco conscious industry.

A Lifelong Friendship

Lily Cole had long admired Vivienne Westwood from a distance, but their friendship didn’t really start until they ran across each other on a photo shoot. Their first interaction was a bit nerve wracking for Cole, who worried she might disappoint her idol. But Westwood put her at ease, impressing Cole with her frankness and intelligence.

As they worked together more often, their bond grew stronger. Cole appreciated Westwood’s feminist leanings and commitment to sustainability, and the designer was clearly taken with Cole’s beauty and intelligence. They shared many experiences over the years, including attending the Met Gala together.

They discovered similar ground in their views and ideals despite having varied backgrounds and ages. Cole talks very fondly of Westwood, saying that the fashion designer constantly pushed her to be her best self. They pushed limits and produced memorable designs together, solidifying their positions in fashion history.

A Legacy of Unapologetic Fashion and Social Commentary

Lily Cole recalled, the remarkable and diverse expressions of fashion that Vivienne embodied throughout her life. How fashion was not just clothing for her but a powerful means of self expression and social commentary. Vivienne Westwood, who passed away in December 2022 at the age of 81, had a fashion journey that evolved and transformed over the years.

Cole reflected on the 1970s, when Vivienne Westwood entered the fashion industry with a bang, with iconic elements like spiked hair, unconventional “rubberwear for the office,” and provocative T-shirt slogans that pushed boundaries so far that she and her partner, Malcolm McLaren, faced prosecution under the 1959 Obscene Publications Act. This period marked the beginning of her rebellious and groundbreaking fashion journey.

As the years passed, Vivienne’s fashion evolved with added humor, zest, and creativity. She displayed a remarkable ability to use clothing as a form of satire and social commentary. Some examples mentioned by Cole include:

Cosplaying as Margaret Thatcher: In 1989, she parodied the upper classes by dressing up as Margaret Thatcher for the cover of Tatler, a British magazine. This was a playful and daring commentary on politics and class.

Furthermore, Posing for Juergen Teller: In an iconic photoshoot, she posed naked on a silk sofa, evoking the famous painting “Olympia” by Manet. This was a statement of body positivity and a challenge to societal norms of beauty and age.

Championing Sustainability and Social Change

Both Cole and Westwood were advocates for sustainability and social change. They utilized their influence to raise awareness about critical issues, including climate change and human rights. As we dive into their shared commitment to these causes, we witness the profound impact their friendship had on shaping their activism.

In conclusion, Lily Cole’s heartfelt memories of her dear friend offer an intimate perspective on this legendary figure, reminding us that fashion is not just about garments but also about the connections forged and the positive impacts made.

As we celebrate the life and work of Vivienne Westwood, let us also commemorate the enduring friendship between her and Lily Cole. Their bond serves as a reminder that true legends are not only defined by their designs but also by the lives they touch and the positive changes they inspire. It is through these shared memories and reflections that we honor the Queen of Punk and continue to be inspired by her enduring spirit.

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