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Vivienne Westwood is both iconoclast and global icon. In the 1970s, she electrified the world with the launch of Punk fashion and went on to become one of the most inventive and influential designers of our time. Fashion to her became "a baby I picked up and never put down."
This exhibition, which was organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and which makes the de Young its only U.S. stop on an international tour, celebrates Westwood’s extraordinary, nearly 40-year-long career. Known best for her fearless nonconformity, she also has a profound respect for the past and looks to it for inspiration. With tradition as her springboard, she takes historic garments such as corsets and crinolines and reinvents them in new ways or uses thoroughly British fabrics like tartans and tweeds to create fashion that gently parodies Establishment styles. However outrageous or provocative the result, her approach has always been practical. She is driven by a curiosity about how things work, and her work reflects her systematic exploration of the structure of historical costume in museum collections.
Westwood's extraordinary range and inventiveness is showcased in the more than 150 objects that make up the exhibition, all drawn from her personal archive and the V&A's collection. The work spans the extremes of fashion, from London street style to the catwalks of Paris and London, and reveals Westwood’s own evolution from subversive shop owner to one of fashion’s most respected figures.
Vivienne Westwood: 36 Years in Fashion has been seen at the V&A, London, April 1–July 11, 2004; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, November 11, 2004–January 30, 2005; Bund Shanghai, July 8–August 7, 2005; Taipei Fine Arts Museums, September 1–October 19, 2005; Mori Arts Center Gallery, Tokyo, Noember 23, 2005–January 15, 2006; NRW Forum, Dusseldorf, February 4–May 14, 2006; and Thailand Creative and Design Centre, Bangkok, July 22–September 24, 2006.
Vivienne Westwood was organized by the V&A, London. The exhibition was curated by Claire Wilcox, the V&A, London.