“The only reason I’m in fashion is to destroy the word conformity” (Vivienne Westwood)
High five for Sheffield who managed to be the only venue in the UK other than the V&A to host "Vivien Westwood: The Exhibition". I make no excuses, I love fashion, I love weird and quirky looks that are different from the mainstream, that take a bit more guts to wear and that say "this is me" and "f you". For this Westwood is simply iconic. She drove the style of "The Sex Pistols", "The Clash" and the UK punk movement with her controversial slogan t-shirts, bondage and fetish wear, retailing through the famous SEX shop on Kings Road. Today, may be 30 years of punk has made it loose it's confrontational edge but back in 1977 it was a big taboo and a big statement. Punk and SEX was only part of the Westwood movement though and the exhibition covers her collections to date.
Westwood’s outfits are almost always over-the-top and frequently verge on the ridiculous, shoes that famously sent Naomi Campbell toppling over the edge, wire undergarments that give you a much bigger and more shapely bottom, fabrics and tailoring to create the perfect power suit and make you feel like a million dollars. The don't conform to acceptable but they do make you look like a "princess from another planet".
I'm by no means a designer junkie, I don't care if it's from Harvey Nicks or the barrel bin at Oxfam. But I loved this exhibition and being given the chance to understand what drove Westwood to create the designs she did and how she did it. My challenge this year is not to buy ANY new clothes and attempt to do it all second hand, done quite well so far, but I am definitely adding a Westwood suit to my ebay shopping list!
Vivien Westwood: The Exhibition is on at the Sheffield Millennium Gallery until September 21 2008.