Dame Vivienne Westwood dies aged 81
The fashion world is in mourning after news broke that iconic designer Dame Vivienne Westwood had died aged 81 at her Clapham home on Thursday, December 29. Tributes have poured in from across the globe, including from the former co-leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas, who said: “Such a legend, a huge inspiration, brilliantly creative and always a committed activist for people and planet – my thoughts are with her family and friends – RIP.” While so much is known about one of Britain’s most influential, and often controversial, fashion designers, the home in which she spent her later years, and her final breaths, is not. Here, Express.co.uk explores the house, which was home to more than one iconic former resident.
Westwood and her husband, Andreas Kronthaler, the creative director and design partner she wedded in 1992, both lived in the leafy area of the historic Old Town area of south London’s Clapham.
Among those who have previously lived in the home include legendary explorer Captain Cook’s mother Grace Cook, helping boost the property’s value to an estimated one million pounds.
Grace, who was born in 1702, wedded Cook’s father James in 1725, with the couple going on to have eight children together, with which the explorer was their second in 1728. Sadly four of those children died in their younger years.
Originally hailing from Scotland, Grace and James moved to England following the Jacobite rebellion of 1715, and after she passed away in 1771, she was buried alongside five of her children in Great Ayton.
Inside the home where Vivienne Westwood passed, and hero’s mother who owned it before
Vivienne Westwood, the acclaimed fashion designer, has died
Vivienne Westwood got into a row over her Clapham home
The house she occupied centuries before Westwood became the centre of controversy at the turn of the millennium, when, in 1999 she was accused of taking advantage of lottery money to renovate the 300-year-old home.
Reports from the time claimed that Lambeth council, as well as the Heritage Lottery fund, had given Westwood £17,530 to restore “iron railings and cracks in the brickwork” of the house.
The decision to award the designer the money infuriated campaigners who claim it countered the principle of lottery funding being used to support good, local causes.
But Westwood, who was given a damehood in 2006, defended her actions in an Independent news report from the time, noting that she “applied for a grant like anyone else”, and that “the council’s view was that the work will improve the whole area”.
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Vivienne Westwood’s home: Picture from property
Inside the home where Vivienne Westwood lived with her husband
Captain James Cook’s mother lived in the property
She continued: “It would be ludicrous to award money to someone who could not afford to do up the building. There has to be a proportion of spending money from the person who buys it. It’s unworkable if you have someone who cannot afford the repairs.
“Cultural things are very important to me and I hate the way property companies can pull down buildings. I don’t think the British have had any culture since the 17th century.
“The whole world is being Americanised. God knows how this country will deteriorate, but this house will be standing into the next century.”
As well as the Clapham property, Westwood and Kronthaler also used to live in a flat in Balham, south London, which compared to her fashion persona, was anything but chaotic.
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Captain Cook’s mother, Grace Cook, lived in the property centuries ago
Vivienne Westwood posed for the pictures in 2020
The images were captured by Vivienne Westwood’s third husband
She claimed that inside the flat were “two second-hand armchairs, a trestle table, a fridge and a cooker”, adding: “I’m the most unacquisitive person you could meet. It’s outrageous that I’ve been painted as this property speculator – I don’t own some string of mansions.
“This is the first time I’ve been able to afford a house and I intend to stay in it, not sell it for profit. What I earn is nothing compared with other designers. People are just trying to provoke envy.”
Despite being worth an estimated £40million, images from inside Westwood’s home were published on Instagram, showing it off to be anything but the lavish style you’d ordinarily expect from a fashion icon.
The property’s garden appears overgrown with lush plants and trees, while inside rooms appear cluttered and well-used.
The home was shared on Instagram
Vivienne Westwood was 81 when she passed away
The images were posted by Kronthaler in 2020, and offer an insight into how the activist and designer lives her life.
Among the images show off the designer’s hallway, as well as the steep stairs up to her kitchen. Elsewhere she is seen perched on a chair beneath the coat rack in the hallway, or climbing down the steep flight of stairs to the kitchen.
Westwood’s career saw her become a huge influence during the Eighties, and at the time she and her second husband Malcolm McLaren, the manager of punk band the Sex Pistols, were seen as significant in defining the decade.
Viv Albertine, a punk icon from the period, reflected on their influence in her 2014 memoir, Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. She said: “Vivienne and Malcolm use clothes to shock, irritate and provoke a reaction but also to inspire change.
“Mohair jumpers, knitted on big needles, so loosely that you can see all the way through them, T-shirts slashed and written on by hand, seams and labels on the outside, showing the construction of the piece; these attitudes are reflected in the music we make. It’s OK to not be perfect, to show the workings of your life and your mind in your songs and your clothes.”