How can you encapsulate the life and legacy of Vivienne Westwood—a chief genius in England’s fashion canon and much, much more besides—in a memorial service? As her granddaughter, Cora Corré, conceded in the last address of this afternoon’s event at Southwark Cathedral: “We can only really touch on the characteristics of the phenomenon that is Vivienne Westwood: a grandmother, a mother, a sister, a friend, a teacher, an artist, a designer—it will never be enough.”
From family to fashion via punk and protest, there was a lot of ground to cover in this 90-minute celebration of Westwood, who passed away in December. And yet there were also well-judged moments that served as reflective punctuation marks—allowing it all to sink in—provided via some particularly beautiful performances. One was from Nick Cave, who sat marvelously saturnine at the piano to sing “Into My Arms” with painfully emotional precision. Another was from Chrissie Hynde, who, accompanied by a guitarist, delivered Buddy Holly’s “Raining in My Heart” low and pure.
The attendees who came to remember Westwood reflected her rich and various progress through life. They included, in no specific order, Paul Smith, Kate Moss, Tracey Emin, Elle Fanning, Victoria Beckham, Pam Hogg, Lily Cole, Liberty Ross, Bianca Jagger, Georgia Jagger, Bob Geldof, Sadie Frost, Jade Parfitt, Mark Moore, Giles Deacon, Beth Ditto, Zandra Rhodes, Brian Cox, Richard E. Grant, Ellen von Unwerth, Paloma Faith, Erdem Moralioglu, Matty Bovan, Stormzy, Alexa Chung, Vanessa Redgrave, and Christina Hendricks. Hamish Bowles, Edward Enninful, and Anna Wintour were amongst those from this parish.
The service began and ended with performances by Arnfield Brass, a brass band local to Westwood’s birthplace near Tintwistle, Derbyshire, that had played at her funeral there in January. The welcome was provided by Reverend Andrew Nunn, the dean of Southwark.
Then came Andreas Kronthaler, Westwood’s husband. Movingly, he told two stories about his wife, one from either side of their time together. The first was from 1988, when he was a student of fashion in Vienna and she was his teacher and they began their relationship. He recalled taking her on an illicit early date to see the city’s best Old Master paintings. When he picked Westwood up, he recalled: “She looked a sensation. She wore a chocolate brown stretch-velvet catsuit. A scarf draped around her hip. Her rocking-horse shoes. A leopard fake fur in pink. And her curls, in orange.” At the Kunsthistorisches he showed her his favorite Velázquez and then a Rubens—an image of which was on the tie he was wearing as he spoke to us from the pulpit. As Westwood was looking at the painting, recalled Kronthaler: “I looked at her and realized that she was my darling girl and I would be with her forever.”