Vivienne Westwood’s Granddaughter Shares Her Personal Tribute

A Year On From Vivienne Westwood’s Memorial, Her Granddaughter Cora Corré Shares Her Personal Tribute

Johnnie Shand Kydd

A year ago, during London Fashion Week, the great and good of the industry gathered to pay tribute to the irreplaceable Dame Vivienne Westwood, who died on 29 December 2022. Ahead of the autumn/winter 2024 shows, her granddaughter shares the private tribute she delivered that day.

Words could never do Vivienne justice or tell her how much I really love her, and the way she touched my life. Her politics and unwavering passion for democracy, wealth distribution and environmentalism set an example for us all. A thought-provoking icon and leader into a new world, a better planet, an inspiration and a much needed voice of our time.

Over the past two years I worked with my grandma, Vivienne, closely on her Foundation. I was attempting to write a seemingly impossible one pager on her longstanding career, including an unimaginable amount of achievements and accolades. I often asked her the question, who is she? She’d say every time, “I am a teacher, a taoist, an activist, an artist and well… a designer,” and shrug her shoulders.

We have heard of Vivienne’s accomplishments as a teacher. At school, my favourite teachers were those that challenged me and in turn, my grandma would become the best teacher of them all. She often challenged me as a little girl, and although Vivienne was not someone easily challenged, I like to think that through my response, we both challenged each other for the better.

I truly grew through my grandma into the woman I am today, not only through her clothes and the body confidence I gained from feeling empowered, but into the person I am today.

She challenged everything, she challenged me, she challenged you, she challenged everyone to do better by educating themselves, whether it was, “Read a book or read my manifesto”.  She challenged the status quo, the media, society’s perception of fashion, but most importantly, she challenged the injustice in the world.

For me, my grandma touched the world like no other with a distinct fierceness, sharp intellect and spiritual sense of self, always humble and yet never scared to speak the truth. She inspired so many to embrace that fire in their belly. She truly made you feel so special, which is reflected in the warmth and love under this roof today and far beyond these walls.

We can only briefly touch on the characteristics of the phenomenon that is Vivienne Westwood. A grandma, a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend, a teacher, activist, artist, designer, it will never be enough. We have heard time and time again how her creativity and design retained its relevance throughout the decades of changing fashion concepts and trends. This was because she always remained true to her inner force, trusted her own judgement and never wavered. She was strong and tough, she needed to be as a woman in a sea of men. Maintaining the belief that with sincerity of application everything is achievable.

I know right now she’d be in my ear asking me what the hell I’m doing up here and to stop talking about her immediately, as we have far more important things to share with this large audience, and why on earth am I not utilising this opportunity to put forward the bigger picture.

We all sit here today, in a place of privilege – that privilege is power, that power is a voice. Vivienne used her voice to lead a relentless fight for justice, continuously highlighting the corruption in the world and trying her best to make the world a better place.

Privilege should not be taken lightly. It should be utilised to shed light on issues crucial to our collective moral compass, to show compassion to fellow human beings, rather than the detachment created through the luxury of your own safety and warmth in your home, often taken for granted whilst many go to sleep fearing for their very existence.

We must remember that what underpins all of this, is the belief that we are separate, and that we bear no responsibility to one another and the idea that we are disconnected from people if they are far away from us. Our principles must remain consistent, or they are not principles at all.

So, to honour Vivienne, share your stage, shed light on the issues and speak up for the people that don’t have a voice, and let Vivienne’s fight continue through you. We need more people like Vivienne in the world.

In her own words: “This is a war for the very existence of the human race. And that of the planet. The most important weapon we have is public opinion. Become a freedom fighter.”

Grandma, into the cosmos I call your name. You always said I was your angel, but you are mine.

Vivienne, we love you.

This article was originally published on British Vogue.

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