Westwood, pioneer of punk fashion, to be championed in V&A show

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The Independent Online

One of the mavericks of fashion, Vivienne Westwood, is to be honoured next year with the biggest exhibition the Victoria & Albert Museum has mounted for a British designer. The show will include dozens of her outfits from the past three decades.

It will also highlight Westwood's debt to the fashion collections of the V&A in South Kensington and other London galleries where she spent hours poring over designs for clothes from earlier centuries. The work of the designer, who has promoted the bustle, the corset and the crinoline in her long career, will be displayed with the clothes that inspired her in an exhibition rivalling the scale of last year's homage to Gianni Versace.

Westwood, 62, first gained widespread attention - with Malcolm McLaren, the Sex Pistols manager - as the driving force behind the punk aesthetic. But she went on to become an eccentric pillar of the British establishment as an OBE and with the Queen's award for exports. She revitalised interest in traditional British fabrics such as Harris tweed and influenced other designers such as Jean-Paul Gaultier.

Mark Jones, the V&A's director, said the museum had one of the world's greatest collections of fashion, including works from figures such as Coco Chanel and Christian Dior.

But it was the work of Westwood, "a unique and extraordinary inventive designer", which was the most requested, prompting the near-permanent display of items such as the outrageous blue platform shoes from which the model Naomi Campbell famously fell. "We hope [the exhibition] will show people the immense creativity and wealth of ideas she has brought to the world of fashion," Mr Jones said.

About 150 costumes, with accessories, designs, photographs and items from her personal archive, will feature in the exhibition, which will run between 1 April and 11 July. The show will include a gold, red and black pirate outfit from her post-punk period, which was the first Westwood item the museum bought. Claire Wilcox, the exhibition's curator and the co-author with Westwood of the accompanying catalogue, was a young member of staff when she was sent to collect the outfit. Such was Westwood's unorthodox reputation in 1983 that Ms Wilcox admitted yesterday: "I was pretty scared."

Westwood said she was proud the museum was mounting the exhibition. "Fashion is an applied art and it is extremely vital and alive today."

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