On December 29, 2022, British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood passed away from an unknown cause of death. It was reported the designer died “peacefully and surrounded by family.” She was 81 years old.

For those who don’t know Westwood, she is most notably and respected for defining the look of punk by using rock iconography, royalty, art, and religion as recurring motifs in her collections. Through this she brought a rebellious edge to British fashion. This was just the start of her long road of becoming an influential fashion designer and activist.

It all started when Westwood was 30 and her and her then boyfriend, Malcolm McLaren—who was an English impresario, visual artist, singer, songwriter, musician, clothes designer, boutique owner, and also manager of the bands, New York Dolls and Sex Pistols—opened a shop together called Let It Rock in London. The business was considered out-of-the-ordinary and pertained to selling fetish wear and fashions that appealed to the Teddy boy style of the 1950s.

It was when she started making a name for herself and designing collections under her own name, she not only established an international reputation but was also deemed ‘the godmother of punk.'

“I did not see myself as a fashion designer but as someone who wished to confront the rotten status quo through the way I dressed and dressed others,” Ms. Westwood said in her memoir published in 2014.

Her passing has left a mark on the fashion industry. Many important figures came out and expressed their sympathies for Westwood’s family but also shared who Vivienne Westwood was to them.

Donatella Versace said, “I am so saddened to hear of the passing of Dame Vivienne Westwood. Vivienne was an iconic pioneer in fashion and its greatest Punk. She broke all of the establishment rules to make clothes that spoke of independence, rebellion, and power. She gave generations of young people new codes to express themselves. Vivienne continually inspired me as one of the few leading women in our industry. She was never afraid, she never took no for an answer, her vision was pure and unfiltered. Vivienne taught us all so much. She always will. Rest in power.”

The British Fashion Council stated, “We are devastated to hear of the death of British designer and activist Vivienne Westwood who has died aged 81. Through her creativity and innovation, she has led the way, inspiring others to be themselves. A fashion revolutionary, her work not only changed the fashion industry—giving birth to and defining punk—but it also drove positive change globally. Her legacy will define generations to come. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.”

There is no doubt that the impact Westwood left on the world was powerful. By birthing and shaping punk, she will always be remembered as a strong woman, a force of nature, and the original queen of fashion.