Vivienne Westwood Is Latest Designer to Get Museum Retrospective

Fashion curator André Leon Talley was inspired by eccentric British celebration.

Andreas Kronthaler and Vivienne Westwood
Photo: Rankin via The Times
Vivienne Westwood at her retrospective at SCAD<br>Photo via: SCAD

Vivienne Westwood at her retrospective at SCAD Museum of Art
Photo via: SCAD

The SCAD Museum of Art has opened a new exhibition that displays the highlights of Vivienne Westwood’s fashion designs against a backdrop of old master paintings from the museum’s collection, including works by William Hogarth, Anthony Van Dyck, and Thomas Gainsborough.

The exhibition “Vivienne Westwood, Dress Up Story – 1990 Until Now” offers a glimpse into the creative process of Westwood, famous for her provocative and irreverent designs which take inspiration from a range of historical periods, citing everything from the French Revolution to anti-Thatcherism punk.

Key pieces from collections that highlight Westwood’s innovative pattern making, distinctive use of unique fabrics, and masterful application of color are exhibited amid the paintings, suggesting visual links that exist within a certain English sensibility.

“Our costumes are romantic and theatrical, inspired by history,” Westwood said in a statement. “We know the characters they belong to. Whoever chooses to wear them re-creates the clothes in her own image making them classics. She inhabits a parallel world–like this one but more ideal,” she added.

The show tells the story of Westwood’s fashion accomplishments from the last 25 years through 33 outfits and a range of accessories, all designed in collaboration with Andreas Kronthaler, whom she met in 1989 when he was her student, and who later became her husband and the brand’s creative director.

“Andreas and I have been designing for 25 years, living and working together,” Westwood said. “It’s our story. We always dress up.”

Andreas Kronthaler and Vivienne Westwood<br>Photo: Rankin via The Times

Andreas Kronthaler and Vivienne Westwood
Photo: Rankin via The Times

Curated by André Leon Talley, contributing editor of Vogue US, the show begins with garments from Westwood’s iconic Spring/Summer 1991 collection Cut, Slash, and Pull and ends with her latest creations.

Talley took inspiration from an eccentric British celebration, describing the exhibition as “a post modern romp of a weekend party where the swells meet the activists, where the rogues go vogue, and the vogues go rogue.”

In the last few years, Talley has forged a stellar career as a fashion curator. He has organized a number of exhibitions at the SCAD, including the recent “Oscar de la Renta: His Legendary World of Style” (2015), “Antonio Lopez and the World of Fashion Art” (2013), and “Little Black Dress” (2012). In 2011, Talley also curated “Joaquin Sorolla and the Glory of Spanish Dress” at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute in New York.

Talley began his career assisting Diana Vreeland at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute and later wrote for Interview Magazine and Women’s Wear Daily, before joining Vogue, where he has first worked as creative director, then became editor-at-large, and is now contributing editor.

“Vivienne Westwood, Dress Up Story – 1990 Until Now” runs from May 19 to September 13, 2015, at SCAD Museum of Art, Georgia.

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