Vivienne Westwood was born 1941 in Derbyshire. She began designing clothes in 1971 and opened her first shop, Let it Rock. This was later renamed Sex in 1974. (Boyes, 2008) She still has the same store on Kings road, now called World’s End. Her work has always been based in London since she moved in the 50’s and her design reflects the cities creativity and edge. (Westwood and McAlpine, 2000)
Figure 4: Red dress ‘Cut, Slash & Pull’ of cotton voile with two sash belts, designed by Vivienne Westwood, Great Britain, 1991 (vam.ac.uk 2017)
This is the Cut Slash and Pull dress, from 1991. It was made in Great Britain and is made of a circle of cotton voile. It was then slashed diagonally and fastened with 2 sash belts. She was inspired by the seventeenth century practice of the cutting of silk fabric and Tudor portraiture. It is now currently stored in the V&A museum. (Collections.vam.ac.uk, 2017) This dress was part of the Cut, Slash and Pull collection. Historically the slashes used to reveal bright silk linings, but Vivienne designed the garments to reveal bare skin. She used denim to create this effect too with hand cut slashes and frayed hems. Funnily enough a lot like trends we see today. (Vam.ac.uk, 2017)
Figure 5 Ensemble, f, cream felt hat, slashed denim jacket and slashed denim trousers, Vivienne Westwood, Britain, ‘Cut, Slash & Pull’ collection, A/W 1990. (vam.ac.uk 2017)
The Cut, Slash and Pull dress fully reflects Vivienne Westwood as a designer and her brand, it is British, with historic references. Its quirky and edgy which is the basis of so many of Vivienne’s designs. With Vivienne beginning her designing career in the 70’s, this was during a period of cultural revolution and punk subculture, probably the biggest and unique contribution to post war culture. Not only this but it pushed individuals to express themselves in a way which previously hadn’t been seen. This led her to develop a strong sense of ‘Britishness’ in her designs. I believe that in the beginning and still to this current day consumers seek Westwood designs to promote an image of self-expression ‘Britishness‘ and individuality. (McDermott, 1999)
This particular garment has a strong historic inspiration with the seventeenth century technique of slashing silk. Sometimes the technique was used to pull another material through the slashes. There are few surviving garments from this period due the distress of the silk. But it can be seen better in paintings such as this one, an image of Diana Cecil the countess of Oxford. Here you can see her garment has been slashed to view the contrasting white material behind. This fashion dated from 1570 and was seen throughout Europe. This said it took another generation for this to reach the UK. the technique of slashing silk was popular all the way till the 1620’s. (Jenkins, 2003) This is where Vivienne gained her inspiration for her Cut, Slash and pull dress and collection. Taking the style into the 20th century, instead of other fabrics being exposed under the material she used the skin.
Figure 6: Diana Cecil, Countess of Oxford (Pinterest 2017)
Jenkins, D. (2003). The Cambridge history of western textiles. 1st ed. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, p.535.
McDermott, C. (1999). Vivienne Westwood. 1st ed. London: Carlton.
Boyes, M. (2008). Vivienne Westwood. [online] British Vogue. Available at: http://www.vogue.co.uk/article/vivienne-westwood-biography [Accessed 2 Apr. 2017].
Westwood, V. and McAlpine, R. (2000). Vivienne Westwood. 1st ed. London: Philip Wilson Pub.
Collections.vam.ac.uk. (2017). Cut, Slash & Pull | Vivienne Westwood | V&A Search the Collections. [online] Available at: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O101260/cut-slash-pull-dress-vivienne-westwood/ [Accessed 2 Apr. 2017].
Vam.ac.uk. (2017). Vivienne Westwood designs – Victoria and Albert Museum. [online] Available at: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/v/vivienne-westwood-designs/ [Accessed 2 Apr. 2017]. “This content was originally written in association with the exhibition ‘Vivienne Westwood: A Retrospective’, on display at the V&A South Kensington 1 April–11 July 2004.”
Figure 4 Vam.ac.uk. (2017). Vivienne Westwood designs – Victoria and Albert Museum. [Image] Available at: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/v/vivienne-westwood-designs/ [Accessed 2 Apr. 2017].
Figure 5 Collections.vam.ac.uk. (2017). Cut, Slash & Pull | Vivienne Westwood | V&A Search the Collections. [online] Available at: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O72829/cut-slash-pull-ensemble-vivienne-westwood/ [Accessed 2 apr. 2017]
Figure 6 https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/566046246892087139/ [Accessed 2 Apr. 2017]