Westwood shoes exhibition staged
A pair of shoes which toppled catwalk queen Naomi Campbell will form part of an exhibition celebrating British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood.
The supermodel fell while wearing the blue, platform-heeled Super Elevated Gillie shoes at a catwalk show in 1993.
The handmade mock-crocodile skin shoes, which have nine-inch heels, are the star attraction at the exhibition, which opened at the Bowes Museum in County Durham yesterday.
Visitors have only one month to catch the exhibition before it travels to Japan, New York and China.
The show, celebrating the ingenuity and creativity of Vivienne Westwood shoes from 1973-2011, has already made its way to Moscow and Beirut.
Joanna Hashagen, keeper of textiles at the Bowes Museum, said: “The exhibition shows the sheer range of Vivienne Westwood’s creative energies.
“She is always pushing boundaries and trying something new.
“We all know about how fantastic are her clothes, but this is the first time anyone has really focused on her shoe collection.
“They are just staggering – and they are made from everything; anything you could think of.
“When you see them, you see they are sculptures, they are works of art in themselves.”
Designer Westwood opened an exhibition of lace for the museum, in Barnard Castle, in 2006. Since then the museum has opened a new gallery to allow it to showcase the new exhibition.
Mrs Hashagen said: “She is very, very interested in historic textiles. She used the V&A historic textile collection when she was younger and thinks that people should, and designers should, be inspired by them and by museums.
Along with around 200 shoe designs, the retrospective will trace the success of Dame Westwood’s career to date.
MA art museum and gallery student at Newcastle University Louise Cooling helped staging the exhibition had been a one-off experience.
She said: “I don’t think I’ll ever own a pair of shoes like this on a curator’s salary but to get up close and personal with them is fantastic.
“Unfortunately we are not allowed to try any of the shoes on - though some of them are incredibly large, because a lot of models are tall and have very big feet. Bigger than mine, at least.
“I love shoes. I’m such a girly girl and some of the less outlandish ones are my favourites; especially the sandals where the heels are made from Coca-Cola tins. They are brilliant and I would wear them.
“I would not get the chance to work with shoes like this at any other occasion, I think, it’s a once in a lifetime thing.”
Designer Westwood’s shoes have gained a reputation and created memorable fashion moments in the past, from Naomi Campbell’s catwalk tumble, to Westwood’s iconic Pirate Boots, first seen in 1981 which remain popular and in demand to the present day.
Westwood said of her own designs: “Shoes must have very high heels and platforms to put women’s beauty on a pedestal.”