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Punk fashion goddess Vivienne Westwood has died

Over the course of two hours on December 29, three deaths were made public: Soccer great Pele; Canadian folk legend Ian Tyson; and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood.

Before she became a celebrated designer, Westwood was all about OG punk rock fashion. Working in partnership with Malcolm McLaren at their shop in The King’s Road in Chelsea, London (first as Let It Rock and then as Sex and later as Seditionaries: Clothes for Heroes), Westwood helped set the style for British punk rock in the middle 70s. She died today at the age of 81 at her home in Clapham, South London.

So many of those early punks–Chrissie Hynder (who worked as a clerk in Sex for a while), Billy Idol, and Siouxsie Sioux. And, of course, the Sex Pistols, a band put together by Malcolm in the shop.

Her signature look involved repurposed bondage gear, lots of plaid, ripped shirts, safety pins, and provocative images (read: swastikas and other Nazi gear designed to shock. Hey, it was a different time.)

Westwood opened four shops in London and eventually created a fashion empire that expanded around the planet. She was also a major activist in the area of nuclear disarmament, climate change, and civil rights. The son she had with Malcome, Joseph Corre, is the founder of Agent Provocateur, the lingerie chain. She was awarded an OBE in 1992.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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