The grand dame of avant garde, Vivienne Westwood, is celebrating 40 years in the business with a global exhibition of her iconic footwear. It was featured at Omotesando Hills in December and early January, following stops in London, Moscow, Beirut and Shanghai.
About 200 pairs of shoes were on display here, together with some runway-only couture outfits and accessories from her latest collection.
Few designers can claim they changed the face of fashion with shoes, but Westwood did just that. Her first runway collection shown in 1981 and entitled “Pirates”, gave us the now-classic multi-buckled boot— a unisex option for rebellious girls and a precursor of the androgynous fashion era.
Her Rocking Horse shoe—a curved wooden platform with a chunk of the heel cut out—became a must-have for Harajuku girls in the late 1990s.
And then there’s her monster, the Super Elevated Gillie with 25cm heels, that model Naomi Campbell famously tumbled while wearing on a runway, not to mention the vast array of plaid boots that are now a Westwood signature.
Westwood began her career in London in 1971, when she opened a small clothing shop that sold DIY couture to the likes of The Sex Pistols. As one of the most iconic designers in history, her high-glam punk aesthetic continues to seep into all facets of fashion.
Historical issues sometimes influence her designs, such as the 1999 Sahara Plimsoll reflecting British colonialism, and the Trompe l’Oeil Boot, influenced by Dandyism of the Victorian era.