Hawthorne and Heaney explore the online Vivienne Westwood: Politics and Fashion exhibition

climate change, campaign, revolution, fashion, revolt, Vivienne Westwood

With the new National Lockdown measures put into place with the message to stay at home, it has given the perfect opportunity to search for art exhibitions online, exploring work displayed all over the world by various designers. I came across Vivienne Westwood: Politics and Fashion online exhibition by the British Fashion Council.

Vivienne Westwood is one of the most recognised women in fashion, known for her positive activism approach to her collections, displaying issues and disasters happening in the world today. She started designing in 1971 with her partner at the time, Malcolm McLaren in their shop located on the Kings Road, London. It became one of the most desired shops of the time, defining the street culture of Punk and Seditionaries. With the change of fashion over time, Westwood decided to turn to traditional Savile Row tailoring techniques, introducing her own flair and style to garments. 

Hawthorne and Heaney explore the online Vivienne Westwood: Politics and Fashion exhibition London Hand Embroidery

 Vivienne Westwood climate change protest outside London Fashion Week

Westwood has spent years speaking out about climate change and the overconsumption of resources that are damaging the planet we live on. She supports charities such as Cool Earth and the  environmental Justice Foundation. Her 2016 Spring/ Summer Collection ‘Mirror the World’ campaigned climate change well, using the challenges faced in modern-day Venice and using it as a mirror to show the world what we are all causing.

Hawthorne and Heaney explore the online Vivienne Westwood: Politics and Fashion exhibition London Hand Embroidery

‘Mirror the World’ Spring/Summer 2016 Collection by Vivienne Westwood

The collection exploited the problems in Venice which include the lack of repair, mass tourism, cruise ships and overall climate change. With Venice being an ‘emporium of culture,’ Westwood used this with the reference to carnivals in a way that people dress and disguise themselves from their own identity and the life they may lead, linking back to the primitive era.  Similarly, we are hiding away and masking the negative problems that affect the world.

Hawthorne and Heaney explore the online Vivienne Westwood: Politics and Fashion exhibition London Hand Embroidery

‘Mirror the World’ Spring/Summer 2016 Collection by Vivienne Westwood

Watching the collection catwalk there were constant links made to nature and the environment in the choice of fabrics, clashing prints and slogans. There were some very interesting material choices used to create structure, shapes giving tailored looks which some may find risky to wear. Some of the pieces had added accessories which looked like they were sourced from emporiums and vintage stores. They were reformed to add bling and express the idea that old things can be reused to make something new. The hair and make-up complemented the looks well, both being conceptual and emphasising cracked or broken mirrors, expressing and exposing the ever-growing damage. 

Hawthorne and Heaney explore the online Vivienne Westwood: Politics and Fashion exhibition London Hand Embroidery Hawthorne and Heaney explore the online Vivienne Westwood: Politics and Fashion exhibition London Hand Embroidery

‘Mirror the World’ Spring/Summer 2016 Collection by Vivienne Westwood

Looking through this exhibit, it has opened my eyes to the destruction we all contributing to climate change. It’s interesting to see how Vivienne Westwood portrays these issues and the way she feels so well through her garment structures, fabric choices and accessories. It is extremely important at this moment in time to consider how we can do our bit to slow down damage to our planet, whether that be recycling, choosing alternative travel options or upcycling old clothes. This exhibition was available on Google Arts and Culture, where there are a huge variety of displays which are free to view and definitely worth looking at. 

 

Words written by Jessica Westley

Photo’s sourced from Google Arts and Culture – British Fashion Council (Vivienne Westwood Exhibit)