The identify Vivienne Westwood is synonymous with iconoclasm, with riot, with the subversion of norms and the daring, brash intrusion of punk. The iconic designer died on December 29, 2022 at the age of 81. Her legacy is properly known—and perfectly deserved. (If you are unfamiliar, start educating oneself in this article.)
But on listening to the news of her passing, my views did not promptly transform to Intercourse, the notorious London boutique she opened in 1971 with Malcom McLaren, the equally infamous manager of the Intercourse Pistols (who, yeah, she dressed). Nor did I discover myself pondering her activist do the job, her later on collections, or her huge and undeniable influence on style in excess of the very last 50 percent a century.
As an alternative, I found myself pondering of a pearl necklace adorned with Westwood’s Orb symbol, and how that 1 necklace exploded the trappings of classic masculinity for the young guys of Gen-Z, leaving in their location a new and exciting approach to vogue that will (ideally) manual them for years to arrive. Mainly because even however she’s no for a longer time with us, what Dame Vivienne Westwood implies for menswear in 2023 is liberty: tradition and tailoring turned on their heads, androgyny and gender decoded and broken down.
The to start with time that Westwood caught my eye in my adult everyday living was in 2020. It was by thirst-trapping TikTokkers: young, L.A.-primarily based princes with hundreds of thousands of followers ardently sporting pearl necklaces with the legendary Orb attraction, which was to start with intended in 1987. It was an epidemic inside of a pandemic: cisgender, heterosexual teens and early 20-somethings who had generally introduced as masculine were abruptly donning single-strand pearls.
Just about everywhere I went that calendar year, the Westwood pearl necklace was current. Boys paired them with gray sweatpants and white tank tops. Women, myself incorporated, wore them with anything from dresses to sweaters to button-downs. That necklace in that year was a symbol of becoming in the know. If individuals couldn’t pay for authentic kinds, very well, there were overall TikTok collection posted on where by to acquire high quality fakes. It was all so interesting simply because it was Vivienne Westwood, guaranteed. It was even cooler simply because it was a phase towards the somewhat additional genderfluid world of vogue that the present minute fosters, that Westwood has constantly inspired.
Following the pearl necklaces, microtrend that they had been, stopped staying front and heart in each and every influencer’s information, Westwood’s essence lingered in the air. It was as if, instantly empowered and unafraid, boys had been doing more. A pinky nail painted below or there. A very long skirt sported, from time to time. Androgyny was seeping into our pores and skin, and Vivienne Westwood was primary the revolution.
It was difficult to pass up boys becoming considerably less rigid in their manner, additional prone to wearing necklaces right after breaking the original ice with that pearl Orb chain. As Gen-Z—already dictating searching cycles and main trends—became acquainted with and accustomed to fashion, Westwood stayed on the ideas of a lot of tongues. Adult men I know who couldn’t convey to you the distinction involving a bomber jacket and a racing jacket know her identify, identify her brand, and could possibly even guess if a scrap of tartan cloth belongs to her. From TikTok to Timothée Chalamet, it’s awesome for awesome guys to twist typical gender norms in this technology, and it’s in no modest part simply because of her.
With taboos and custom peeled back, you basically simply cannot dismiss to the influence Vivienne Westwood has had on youth manner, even now—and the effect that that 1 pearl necklace has experienced on the gentlemen of Gen-Z. When these a typically female signifier is suddenly currently being embraced by the boys, adopted in match by additional androgynous silhouettes, textures, colors, and designs…well, it exhibits us that the long run of fashion is malleable and morphable, and is straying from the regulations in a really punk way. A pretty Vivienne Westwood way.
Trishna Rikhy is the Affiliate Design Commerce Editor at Esquire. Previously, her writing has appeared in Vogue Runway, PAPER Journal, V Journal, V Male, and much more. She is centered in NYC, but can almost certainly be uncovered wherever the strongest cup of espresso is.
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