Current and coming exhibitions

Hand of God. Photo: Yanan Li
Vivienne Westwood on Paris catwalk. Photo: Ki Price
Carl Milles. Angel musicians. Photo: Yanan Li

VIVIENNE WESTWOOD Punk & glamour
A private collection
3 October 2020 - 9 May 2021

Dame Vivienne Isabel Westwood (b. 8 April 1941) is responsible for bringing modernpunk and new romantic fashions into the mainstream. Along with individual tailoring, knitting techniques and as a supporter of political causes –Vivienne Westwood is the original punk rocker! This show illustrates her five decades in fashion – from her origins in the Do-It-Yourself of punk and her evolution into the glamour of  couture.

Westwood’s illustrious fashion career first began with Malcolm McLaren, future manager of punk band Sex Pistols, in the 1970s. Together they created clothing, which they sold from premises at 430 Kings Road, London. Their aesthetic shocked a conservative 1970s England featuring bondage suits made from military tartan, tops adorned with pins and bearing slogans like “Destroy” superimposed over anazi swastika, and t-shirts featuring provocative images such as a pair of cowboys naked from the waist down. The shop on King’s Road went through a number of name changes – “SEX”, “Seditionaries”, “World’s End” – each reinvention opening up yet another imagined world. 

When her partnership with McLaren ended, Vivienne turned to tradition and craft. From the mid-1980s she rooted her work in tailoring and the self-taught Westwood apprenticed herself to the skills necessary to cut, sew and fold cloth. 

Westwood’s “mini-crini” design from 1985, a combined mini-skirt and Victorian crinoline was a turning point. For the next two decades, she created collections that took inspiration from classical sources, notably the paintings of 18th century painters Jean-Honoré Fragonard, François Boucher, and Antoine Watteau. Facsimiles of favourite paintings were printed directly onto her designs, for example Boucher’s Daphnis and Chloe, a painting held in London’s Wallace Collection. 

The Westwood logo, the orb and ring, used since 1985 is part of the royal regalia held by the Queen at the ceremonial State Opening of Parliament, used together with the ‘Saturn’ ring this logo represents the taking of tradition into the future.

In1988, the Austrian designer Andreas Kronthaler met Westwood at the Vienna School of Applied Arts where she was a professor. He moved to London to work with her, in 1991 they designed their first joint collection, and two year slater, they got married. 

Westwood has come a long way from maverick designer, to gradually becoming part of the establishment and in 1992 she received an Order of the British Empire and in 2006 the title of Dame Commander for her outstanding contribution to Britishfashion. Her clothes and products are today sold in more than 50countries. 

Westwood remains a figurehead and creative force in fashion whilst she remains a passionate and committed activist. Over the years both her and her clothing have become increasingly more politicised. Westwood campaigns for freedom of speech, against climate change, protests to end fracking and advocates for the preserving the Arctic from mineral speculation.

On display, curated by English collector Lee Price, are circa 350 items designed by Westwood, spanning from the 1970s to the 2010s. In addition, we show pictures taken by photographer Ki Price, where Westwood appear on both glamorous catwalks and on the streets of London, during political campaigns.