Monday, 7 May 2012

art as fashion - vivienne westwood and the wallace collection

Today I'm going to talk about another designer who is known for taking ideas, inspiration and imagery from history; Vivienne Westwood; 'I am a great believer in copying; there has never been an age in which people have so little respect for the past'. In her ‘Portrait’ collection (Autumn Winter 1990) Westwood took appropriation to another level, wanting the models to appear as if they had just stepped out of a painting, inspired by many hours spend studying art in the Wallace Collection in London. She used the idea of ‘pastiche’ in this collection; not just appropriating images but appropriating styles and shapes from the past, the 18th century particularly, as she has done in many of her collections. Bringing the corset back in to style  is one of the most notable things she has done (along with other designers such as Jean-Paul Gaultier, think of his conical madonna bra adaptation). By being comfortable with a modern zip fastening the corsets in her portrait collection cast off their old representation as a symbol of constriction and restraint, becoming a symbol of female freedom and empowerment.


These 18th century inspired corsets feature photographic prints of paintings by Boucher such as ‘Daphnis and ChloĆ« (Shepherd watching a sleeping shepherdess)’ (1743-5). Westwood came across this painting while in the Wallace Collection, a place she describes as a “jewel box” and credits as being one of her main influences, she says of Boucher’s paintings “they are so typical [of the 18th century], and so pretty… it’s just so light and, I don’t know, cynical” . To further emphasize the feel that the models had stepped out of a painting they were also wearing ten inch platform heels as you can see below.



Vivienne Westwood on the influence of the Wallace Collection on her work.

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