EXCLUSIVE: Vivienne Westwood handed over empire days before she died

EXCLUSIVE: Vivienne Westwood handed over the reigns of her £70m fashion empire to her husband and outspoken mogul Jeff Banks just two weeks before she died

  • Dame Vivienne’s friend and husband made directors of firms on December 22
  • Jeff Banks is now a director of Vivienne Westwood Ltd, her clothing business
  • Her third husband Andreas Kronthaler made director of her property firm
  • The fashion designer died peacefully surrounded by her family in Clapham

Dame Vivienne Westwood handed over the reins of her £70million business empire on the eve of her death, MailOnline can exclusively reveal today.

The godmother of punk, who changed the fashion world forever and passed away peacefully last night, put her friend and fellow designer Jeff Banks, 79, in charge of her clothing company just before Christmas.

Mr Banks is now a director of Vivienne Westwood Ltd, according to a filing to Companies House on December 22. The profitable company holds cash and assets of more than £50million.

On the same day, in a suggestion that she may have been gravely ill, her third husband Andreas Kronthaler, an Austrian designer 25 years her junior, was made a director and secretary of his wife’s property business, which is worth £18million.

Her two sons, one an erotic photographer and the other the founder of the Agent Provocateur lingerie brand, have no formal role in their mother’s business but may inherit her £150million fortune.

Dame Vivienne Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler, her third husband, who was made director of her property business just before she died, yesterday

Welsh fashion designer Jeff Banks has been made director of Dame Vivienne’s fashion business, in changes at her companies on the eve of her death

Vivienne Westwood kissing her husband during Paris Fashion Week in 2016


Dame Vivienne was determined to retain control of her fashion house, after Armani and other big names were bought by private equity firms.

The Grand Dame who shook up the British fashion scene: How Vivienne Westwood trained as a primary school teacher…before bringing punk rock to the mainstream 

Vivienne Westwood. Punk fashion designer at her boutique ‘Seditionaries: Clothes for Heroes’ 430 Kings Road in 1977


She said previously: ‘I own my own company, so I’ve never had businessmen telling me what to do or getting worried if something doesn’t sell. I’ve always had my own access to the public, because I started off making my clothes for a little shop and so I’ve always had people buying them. I could always sell a few, even if I couldn’t sell a lot, and somehow my business grew because people happened to like it’.

It is not known who will inherit her estimated £150million fortune. She is survived by Mr Kronthaler, who was her design partner. Her son, Ben, an erotic photographer, was born in 1963, the year after her marriage to her first husband, Hoover factory worker Derek Westwood.

Her younger son Joseph Corre, a businessman who founded the lingerie retalier Agent Provocateur, was born in 1967 out of her relationship with punk music mogul Malcolm McLaren.

The ‘undisputed Queen of British fashion’ died peacefully surrounded by her family in Clapham, South London, her fashion house revealed yesterday. 

Dame Vivienne was one of the most influential British fashion designers of the 20th century, cultivating the punk rock movement with her unapologetically political designs.

As the person who dressed the Sex Pistols, Dame Vivienne was synonymous with 1970s punk rock, a rebel spirit that stuck with her throughout her career including going commando when receiving her OBE from the Queen.

Incredibly her career began when she was a primary school teacher, making jewellery and then dresses in her spare time after marrying Hoover engineer Derek Westwood. Her life changed when she met and married second husband Malcolm McLaren, with the couple finding fame with their ‘Sex’ boutique on the King’s Road and dressing bands including the New York Dolls and then the Pistols. 

And later in life her activism on climate change, opposing fracking , as well as her support for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange dominated her work and were all fodder for protest T-shirts or banners worn by models on the runway. 

Her third husband and creative partner Andreas Kronthaler said last night: ‘I will continue with Vivienne in my heart.  We have been working until the end and she has given me plenty of things to get on with. Thank you darling.’

The statement from her representatives added: ‘Vivienne continued to do the things she loved, up until the last moment, designing, working on her art, writing her book, and changing the world for the better.

‘She led an amazing life.

‘Her innovation and impact over the last 60 years has been immense and will continue into the future.’

It also said that The Vivienne Foundation, a not-for-profit company founded by Dame Vivienne, her sons and grand-daughter in late 2022, will launch next year to ‘honour, protect and continue the legacy of Vivienne’s life, design and activism’. 

The pioneering fashion designer made a name for herself on the fashion scene in the 1970s, with her androgynous designs, slogan t-shirts and irreverent attitude towards the establishment. 

In July 2020, Dame Vivienne sounded a warning over an Assange ‘stitch-up’ while dressed in canary yellow in a giant bird cage.

Dame Vivienne led a colourful band of protesters chanting ‘Free Julian Assange’ outside the Old Bailey in central London.

Suspended inside the cage, she said: ‘Don’t extradite Assange – it’s a stitch-up.’

Famed fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood (pictured left and right) died peacefully surrounded by family at her home in Clapham

Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood at Buckingham Palace, in London, where she received her OBE from Queen Elizabeth II. She is giving a twirl for the photographers, but beneath her tailored suit she wore no knickers

Flowers and tributes outside the Clapham home of Dame Vivienne Westwood

She died peacefully surrounded by her family in Clapham, South London , her fashion house revealed yesterday. The statement is in the window of one of her central London stores

Flowers and a poignant note left outside her Worlds End Shop on the Kings Road

Vivienne Westwood (R) and his husband Andreas Kronthaler (L) attend the Stella McCartney Womenswear Spring/Summer 2020 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on September 30, 2019 in Paris

A VERY daring dame! From Kate Moss’ tiny skirt to going commando to meet the Queen, Femail reveals Vivienne Westwood’s boldest outfits 

Kate Moss famously donned a tiny Vivienne Westwood miniskirt while walking topless in a runway show in 1993


The designer’s most infamous reveal was while receiving an OBE at Buckingham Palace in 1992 when she turned for the cameras and her suit skirt went flying, it became evident she left her underwear at home.

She dressed up as then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher for a magazine cover in 1989 and drove a white tank near the country home of a later British leader, David Cameron, to protest against fracking.

‘The only reason I am in fashion is to destroy the word ‘conformity’,’ Westwood said in her 2014 biography. ‘Nothing is interesting to me unless it’s got that element’.

Together with the Sex Pistols’ manager, Malcolm McLaren, she defied the hippie trends of the time to sell rock’n’roll-inspired clothing.

They moved on to torn outfits adorned with chains as well as latex and fetish pieces that they sold at their shop in London’s King’s Road variously called ‘Let It Rock’, ‘Sex’ and ‘Seditionaries’, among other names.

They used prints of swastikas, naked breasts and, perhaps most well-known, an image of the queen with a safety pin through her lips. Favourite items included sleeveless black T-shirts, studded, with zips, safety pins or bleached chicken bones. 

‘There was no punk before me and Malcolm,’ Westwood said in the biography. ‘And the other thing you should know about punk too: it was a total blast.’

Celebrities have paid tribute to Dame Vivienne Westwood, with the world described as ‘already a less interesting place’ following her death at the age of 81.

The pioneering fashion designer made a name for herself on the fashion scene in the 1970s, with her androgynous designs, slogan t-shirts and irreverent attitude towards the establishment.

Vivienne Westwood became a star of the punk era, pictured in 1977

Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood outside Bow Street Magistrate Court in 1977, after he was bailed for fighting

Jordan, and Simon Barker, aka Six, modelling bondage gear from the Seditionaries boutique on King’s Road, London in 1977

Malcolm Mclaren and Vivienne Westwood in 1981, after their marriage ended


Dame Vivienne Westwood with her two sons, erotic photographer Ben Westwood and  Agent Provocateur founder and designer Joseph Corre

Dame Vivienne Westwood with Lady Thatcher in 2000

Kate Moss and Vivienne Westwood attend Vivienne Westwood’s Private View of her new retrospective show at the V&A Museum on March 30, 2004

Vivienne Westwood (C) and her ‘Fash Mob’ prior to the Vivienne Westwood Red Label show during London Fashion Week SS16 at Ambika P3 on September 20, 2015

Fashion designer and activist Vivienne Westwood rides to David Cameron’s Oxfordshire constituency home in a tank in 2015

Vivenne Westwood walks the runway at the Vivenne Westwood show during the London Fashion Week Men’s June 2017 collections

Westwood and Jerry Hall (right) pictured together at the Dorchester Club in London in 2000

Westwood pictured at the Paris Fashion Week with Tracey Emin in 2000

Westwood walks the runway during the Vivienne Westwood show as part of the Paris Fashion Week in March 2014

Westwood pictured in her SOHO boutique in New York in 1998

Fashion world unites in grief for Dame Vivienne Westwood: Victoria Beckham and Marc Jacobs lead tributes 

Sad news: Celebrities flooded social media with tributes after the death of fashion desinger Dame Vivienne Westwood at the age of 81 on Thursday


Dame Vivienne died on Thursday ‘peacefully, and surrounded by her family in Clapham, south London’, her representatives said.

The Pretenders’ frontwoman Chrissie Hynde, who worked at Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s boutique in punk’s early days, sent her love to her departed friend.

‘Vivienne is gone and the world is already a less interesting place. Love you Viv,’ Hynde tweeted.

Model Bella Hadid described the designer as the most ‘epic human being that has walked this earth… my inspiration and idol in all things’.

In an Instagram post with photos of the pair together, Hadid wrote: ‘Dearest Vivienne, Queen of punk, From the first day I met you to the last day I saw you, you made me smile, listen, learn and love more than the day before.

‘I will forever be grateful to have been in your orbit, because to me and most, in fashion & in humanity, you, Vivienne, were the sun.

‘To the coolest, most fun, incredible , humble, creative , badass, intelligent, f****** epic human being that has walked this earth… my inspiration and idol in all things … rest in love and Rest In Peace… I will miss you.’

Dame Vivienne, who was born in Cheshire in 1941, is largely accepted as being responsible for bringing punk and new wave fashion into the mainstream with her eccentric creations.

Her designs were regularly worn by high-profile individuals including Dita Von Teese who wore a purple Westwood wedding gown to marry Marilyn Manson, and Princess Eugenie who wore three Westwood designs for various elements of the wedding of William and Kate Middleton.

Westwood pictured attending the Vivenne Westwood SS18 show during the London Fashion Week in 2017

Westwood (C) and her ‘Fash Mob’ prior to the Vivienne Westwood Red Label show during London Fashion Week in 2015

Dame Vivienne’s designs also featured in the 2008 film adaptation of Sex And The City, starring Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw.

In addition to her work as a designer, Dame Vivienne was vocal in her support of a number of social and political initiatives including campaigning for the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is fighting to avoid being sent to the US to face charges under the Espionage Act.

Vivienne Westwood: The outspoken icon and rebel who seamlessly blended fashion with activism

By Dinah van Tulleken, Fashion Editor 

‘Capitalism is a crime. It’s the root cause of war, climate change and corruption.’

Not what you expect to hear from one of the most influential fashion designers of all time, but that’s exactly why the industry loved her.

Vivienne Westwood is one of the last independent global fashion companies and it’s a reflection of her values that she never sold to one of the big fashion houses.

Her label has always been about activism as much as clothes – in some senses her products have simply been a vessel for her politics.

The ever-provocative grande dame of British fashion began designing in 1971 with her partner Malcolm McLaren at their shop at 430 King’s Road. Her skill was to create the outrageous out of the traditional. She raided historical trends to create some of the most contemporary looks.

She believed clothes should provoke a reaction. And they did exactly that in 1992 when she went commando to receive her OBE at Buckingham Palace.

‘I wished to show off my outfit by twirling the skirt.

‘It did not occur to me that, as the photographers were practically on their knees, the result would be more glamorous than I expected,’ she breezily explained. 

Stella Assange, whose wedding dress to the Australian was created by Dame Vivienne, paid tribute to her as a ‘pillar of the anti-establishment’.

‘Vivienne was a Dame and a pillar of the anti-establishment. Bold, creative, thoughtful and a good friend. The best of Britain. She will be missed terribly by me and many others,’ Assange posted on behalf of her husband.

American fashion designer Marc Jacobs said he was ‘heartbroken’ at the news of the death, writing in a post on Instagram: ‘You did it first. Always. Incredible style with brilliant and meaningful substance.

‘I continue to learn from your words, and, all of your extraordinary creations. I will always remember the night we bonded over our mutual love for Yves Saint Laurent.

‘You never failed to surprise and to shock. I am grateful for the moments I got to share with you and Andreas.

‘Rest in Peace dear Vivienne, although, somehow peace seems like the wrong word.’

The self-styled queen of punk always injected controversy into the fashion industry with her risque creations.

The designer was largely responsible for anti-establishment punk fashion and became known for her subversive and eccentric take on traditional British style.

She and McLaren, one-time manager of punk band the Sex Pistols, opened the shop where Hynde worked called Let It Rock – also known as Sex – in the early 1970s where she began selling her outrageous outfits.

The punk style included bondage gear, safety pins, razor blades, bicycle or lavatory chains and spiked dog collars.

The style icon caused a stir in 1992 when she collected her OBE from the Queen minus her underwear and twirled round in the courtyard to reveal all.

In 2006 when she was made a Dame, she opted again not to wear knickers and went to Buckingham Palace wearing a pair of silver horns.

Describing her outfit on the day – a black cap perched on the back of vibrant orange hair and a black dress with campaign badges and the tiny horns on her head – she said it showed her as an urban guerrilla and a Che Guevara figure.

She explained: ‘I’m supposed to be a bit like a Che Guevara – an urban guerrilla, with my cap, this kind of jungle net and a badge for my Active Resistance to Propaganda campaign.’

Some of her best-known creations include the Mini Crini, bustle-skirts, bondage trousers and 12-inch platform shoes, the type which famously tripped up supermodel Naomi Campbell.

She developed the idea of underwear as outerwear, and Madonna’s legendary conical bra worn on her Blonde Ambition tour, designed by Jean Paul Gaultier, would probably never have happened if not for Westwood.

She also transformed the corset from a symbol of female repression to one of power and sexual freedom.

After becoming a primary school teacher, she quit her job to become a seamstress of punk fashion and opened her shop on Chelsea’s Kings Road with her then partner McLaren.

The Sex Pistols wore the shop’s clothes to their first gig and Westwood’s first runway show was presented at Olympia in London in March 1981.

Singer Billy Idol, who first found fame on the London punk rock music scene, tweeted: ‘RIP it will take me a bit to take this in…’

Spice Girl and fashion designer Victoria Beckham paid tribute to Dame Vivienne Westwood on her Instagram stories.

Sharing a picture of Dame Vivienne, she wrote: ‘I’m so sad to learn of the passing of legendary designer and activist Dame Vivienne Westwood. My thoughts are with her family at this incredibly sad time VB.’

Sex And The City actress Kim Cattrall shared an anecdote about Westwood on Instagram, saying the designer was a ‘true genius who never lost her northern grit’.

Cattrall went to say: ‘Short story – An LA stylist had sent me 3 dresses from various designers for the London/Berlin/NY premiers of a film.

‘The clothes arrived at my London hotel unclean, were unflattering and in need of alteration.

‘I was crest fallen until a mutual friend took me immediately to see Vivienne Westwood atelier and Vivienne made me a new dress in 3 days and 2 others beside for each of the upcoming openings.

‘I’ve never forgotten her generosity and kindness in making that happen and saving the day. RIP Vivienne. You are a legend. Kx.’

Source: Read Full Article