Remembering Vivienne Westwood, queen of punk fashion design, friend of Ukraine

My Westwood journey began the day I walked past Vivienne Westwood’s Anglomania collection at the Las Vegas fashion show. At that moment, I decided to add the brand to our assortment while I was at the head of Zappos Couture back in 2008.

Years later, the decision to buy her brand that day eventually landed me the most illustrious position as President of Sales for Vivienne Westwood America. I was blessed to work for a true icon and legend of the fashion industry.

Vivienne made punk rock fashion a phenomenon, reinvented the corset and was always years ahead of her time with each collection. Her styles are not created for mass market clients, but for those of us who want to express ourselves and dare to “live fast and die young”, is one of her most famous statements.

She transformed the way we look at fashion and was incredibly influential, remaining focused on environmental issues throughout her career. Her messages spoke loud and clear in her designs: Vivienne inspired her customers to focus on important messages through her collections such as Stop War, Climate Revolution, Politicians are Criminals, Save the Arctic and more.

Vivienne and her team at Westwood despised war—especially the war in Ukraine—and spoke many times throughout her career about how war is the biggest polluter.

In addition, she blogged daily, “Climate revolution,” where Vivienne introduced me to US Election Day 2016 talking to her about how America needs to “wake up” and not vote for Donald Trump.

I was lucky enough to spend time with her in Paris, Milan and London where she taught us all how corrupt the world and people can be.

Vivienne was so passionate about saving the environment that she would literally even reuse her tea bags. If we were in the showroom in Paris, we would have to leave a note on them to tell the staff not to throw them out so she could use them a second or third time. She would get upset if someone threw them in the trash because she was totally committed to recycling.

I also vividly remember watching her perfect the garment. She would see every detail and change only the smallest part to make the design flawless. All my friends who worked directly with her on the design process said they learned so much working with Vivienne and that she was their greatest teacher. There was nothing like watching her work, and until recently she still rode a push bike to a design studio in London.

To this day, about half of my wardrobe is filled with Vivienne Westwood designs and the other half with Ukrainian fashion designs. I’d say my wardrobe is perfect with a mix of talent like that.

The Westwood company consisted of a team that was one of the most unconventional characters and I fit in well with that. Fortunately, I still have the Vivienne Westwood team of people living all over the world in my life so we will fight to uphold her values ​​together for future generations. The world will be less informed without her daily activism and influence. She was a true legend; the biggest disruptor and I will miss him terribly.

Vivienne died on December 29.

Jen Sidary has led and implemented partnerships between brands and established retailers from around the world, with a career spanning more than three decades.

Founded by Sidary in April 2022, a multi-brand fashion e-commerce site to support Ukrainian designers and their businesses to survive the war. She worked on several ambitious projects with YOU SAID Competitive economy program as a fashion industry expert, he represents Ukrainian brands at fashion weeks in New York and Paris.

Before working with Ukraine, Sidary previously served as president of sales for Vivienne Westwood America and head of Zappos Couture

Jen Sidary

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