Her fashion house said on Thursday that Westwood died “peacefully surrounded by family.” She was 81 years old.
“The world needs people like Vivienne to make a change for the better,” her fashion house said on Instagram.
“She led an amazing life. Her innovation and impact over the last 60 years has been immense and will continue into the future.”
The cause of death was not disclosed. Andreas Kronthaler, her husband and creative partner, said their collaboration had lasted “all the way to the end, and she has given me plenty of work to do.”
The designer rose to prominence with her edgy, punk-inspired designs in the 1970s. Despite her shifting focus from year to year, Westwood maintained a rebellious spirit in her work.
“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.”
It was Westwood who sent bare-breasted Kate Moss down the runway munching on ice cream, and who nearly broke Naomi Campbell’s ankle on a pair of nine-inch platform heels.
A vocal critic of fast fashion, she pioneered the use of ethical and sustainable materials in her collections. It was this support for environmental causes that eventually won her the uneasy approval of the British establishment.
Over her career, she received numerous accolades, including being made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth in 2006.
Westwood is survived by her second husband, Austrian-born Andreas Kronthaler, and her two sons.
Among them is fashion photographer Ben Westwood, who was her son with Derek Westwood. The second is Joe Corre, her son with Malcolm McLaren, who co-founded the upscale lingerie company Agent Provocateur.