The title Vivienne Westwood is synonymous with iconoclasm, with revolt, with the subversion of norms and the bold, brash intrusion of punk. The iconic designer died on December 29, 2022 at the age of 81. Her legacy is nicely known—and perfectly deserved. (If you might be unfamiliar, start off educating your self in this article.)
But on hearing the information of her passing, my thoughts did not promptly flip to Sex, the notorious London boutique she opened in 1971 with Malcom McLaren, the similarly notorious manager of the Intercourse Pistols (who, yeah, she dressed). Nor did I uncover myself pondering her activist get the job done, her later on collections, or her vast and plain impact on manner over the previous 50 % a century.
As a substitute, I located myself thinking of a pearl necklace adorned with Westwood’s Orb logo, and how that just one necklace exploded the trappings of standard masculinity for the younger guys of Gen-Z, leaving in their location a new and remarkable strategy to style that will (with any luck ,) guidebook them for several years to arrive. Because even however she’s no for a longer time with us, what Dame Vivienne Westwood suggests for menswear in 2023 is freedom: tradition and tailoring turned on their heads, androgyny and gender decoded and damaged down.
The very first time that Westwood caught my eye in my adult lifestyle was in 2020. It was by way of thirst-trapping TikTokkers: young, L.A.-dependent princes with tens of millions of followers ardently sporting pearl necklaces with the iconic Orb appeal, which was very first built in 1987. It was an epidemic in just a pandemic: cisgender, heterosexual teenagers and early 20-somethings who experienced often introduced as masculine ended up out of the blue donning solitary-strand pearls.
Almost everywhere I went that year, the Westwood pearl necklace was present. Boys paired them with gray sweatpants and white tank tops. Girls, myself integrated, wore them with every little thing from dresses to sweaters to button-downs. That necklace in that yr was a symbol of currently being in the know. If persons couldn’t manage authentic types, perfectly, there had been complete TikTok series posted on where to acquire top quality fakes. It was all so neat because it was Vivienne Westwood, positive. It was even cooler because it was a phase towards the marginally far more genderfluid environment of vogue that the current minute fosters, that Westwood has usually inspired.
Right after the pearl necklaces, microtrend that they were being, stopped becoming entrance and heart in every influencer’s information, Westwood’s essence lingered in the air. It was as if, out of the blue empowered and unafraid, boys ended up carrying out far more. A pinky nail painted below or there. A lengthy skirt sported, often. Androgyny was seeping into our skin, and Vivienne Westwood was primary the revolution.
It was not possible to miss boys turning out to be much less rigid in their trend, much more susceptible to sporting necklaces right after breaking the initial ice with that pearl Orb chain. As Gen-Z—already dictating buying cycles and main trends—became acquainted with and accustomed to vogue, Westwood stayed on the suggestions of several tongues. Adult men I know who couldn’t convey to you the big difference between a bomber jacket and a racing jacket know her identify, realize her brand, and could perhaps even guess if a scrap of tartan material belongs to her. From TikTok to Timothée Chalamet, it is neat for neat men to twist typical gender norms in this technology, and it is in no small portion due to the fact of her.
With taboos and tradition peeled back, you only can not disregard to the impact Vivienne Westwood has experienced on youth manner, even now—and the impact that that a single pearl necklace has experienced on the males of Gen-Z. When this sort of a usually female signifier is quickly becoming embraced by the boys, followed in go well with by far more androgynous silhouettes, textures, colours, and designs…well, it exhibits us that the long term of manner is malleable and morphable, and is straying from the regulations in a quite punk way. A quite Vivienne Westwood way.
Trishna Rikhy is the Associate Type Commerce Editor at Esquire. Earlier, her crafting has appeared in Vogue Runway, PAPER Magazine, V Magazine, V Person, and far more. She is based mostly in NYC, but can likely be uncovered anywhere the strongest cup of espresso is.