Vivienne Westwood’s wardrobe sold at auction for the benefit of committed associations

Vivienne Westwood’s wardrobe sold at auction for the benefit of committed associations
Vivienne Westwood’s wardrobe sold at auction for the benefit of committed associations

The auction house Christie’s, accompanied by the designer’s husband, is presenting from today an online sale of the personal wardrobe of the committed designer Vivienne Westwood. The funds collected will be donated to associations and NGOs promoting ecology, human rights and even social inequalities.

The online sale takes place until June 28. A live sale will take place on June 25 in London.

The collection includes more than 250 garments and accessories, most of which have appeared on the catwalks before being worn by their creator. It includes some of the most iconic pieces, with corsets, tartan, flowing taffeta dresses, stiletto heels and t-shirts with political claims.

“Create a better society and stop climate change”

Among the items up for auction are playing cards designed to draw attention to issues like global warming, social inequality and human rights. Ten were enlarged and signed by the designer who died in 2022 at the age of 81, to raise funds for Greenpeace.

The proceeds from the sale will also go to associations including Amnesty International, Médecins sans frontières and the designer’s foundation, which works with NGOs to “create a better society and stop climate change”.

Head of the catalog and coordinator of the collection, Clementine Swallow, told AFP that “Vivienne’s playing cards” were the catalyst for a larger auction.

Although Vivienne Westwood “knew she wouldn’t be able to see the project”, “she wanted her personal wardrobe to be sold to benefit other charities important to her”, she added.

The designer’s widower, Andreas Kronthaler, 58, was closely involved. “He personally assembled all the lots into outfits that she would have worn,” says Clementine Swallow.

“These are the objects that she had chosen, from the thousands of things that she drew over 40 years,” she says, “these are the kinds of things that she considered to be the quintessence of her creations.”

“A big part of Vivienne’s identity is activism”

The collection includes a number of key pieces, which illustrate the cultural impact of Vivienne Westwood, and the wide range of influences she drew during the four decades of her career.

The oldest piece is a skirt and jacket set from the “end of the world, witches” fall/winter 1983 collection, where Vivienne Westwood was still working with her first husband and manager of the Sex Pistols, Malcolm McLaren.

According to Clementine Swallow, the designer was influenced by British history but gave classic designs a provocative edge, evoking a taffeta ballgown with “black bondage-style wraps.”

Many of the garments feature political motifs and slogans that reflect his concern for social justice. “A big part of Vivienne’s identity is activism,” “she’s really one of those designers who took their clothes and used them as a megaphone to express their ideas and political opinions,” according to the catalog manager.

Other choice pieces included Vivienne Westwood’s pink tartan style, and a blue jacket similar to the one Naomi Campbell wore when she fell on the catwalk wearing 12-inch heels in 1993.

We can “make recyclable exhibitions”

There are also early examples of the designer’s elastic corsets, which highlight her habit of unifying comfort and beauty. Sustainability and ethical fashion are also key themes.

Arguably the most expensive piece is a hand-sewn dress with intricate beading and gold panels, created with artisans in Kenya. All materials used to display items are recycled or recyclable, including cardboard signage and plywood stands. “It was a big lesson for us”, and proves that we can “make recyclable exhibitions”, underlines Clementine Swallow.

The items are estimated at between £200 and £7,000, but are expected to fetch much more.

Museums and other institutions are expected among the bidders, but the catalog manager emphasizes that the designer “loved the idea (that her clothes) were worn by real people”, “the idea that they have another life is magnificent “.

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