The infamous Catwalk book series, published by Thames & Hudson, are made up of the modern day fashion worshipper's holy bibles. So far, they have provided an exhaustive education on Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Yves Saint Laurent haute couture. Alognside insightful and lengthy introductions, collections are illustrated by notes painstakingly provided by revered fashion historians, writers and critics including Susannah Frankel and Andrew Bolton. Each hefty volume of fashion knowledge unsurprisingly weighs a tonne, comes cloth-bound with satin ribbon page markers, and provide an unparalleled and essential authority on each designer and brand. Now, fashion critic, collector and Vivienne Westwood aficionado Alexander Fury, (who also penned the Dior edition), provides the narrative for the iconic British brand.
From wearing no knickers to collect her OBE from Buckingham Palace, to gracing the April 1989 cover of Tatler dressed as Maggie Thatcher, Vivienne Westwood has never been one to do what she's told. Provocateur, activist and designer, she has been the architect of recurrent change both on and off the runway. Her anti-mainstream fashion proposals have frequently and ironically become popular, imprinted forever in the fashion imagination. In short, Westwood as both icon and designer, is absolutely central to the discourse of fashion.
Westwood's career has seen many phases. From Westwood and Malcolm McLaren's infamous clothes shop on the King's Road and the punk era of the 1970s, to her first runway show Pirate (A/W 81), to the New Romantic period of 1981-1985 and the historical underwear of the Pagan Years in the 1980s, (corsetry is a staple for the British brand). Or there's the Mini-Crini S/S 85 show which ushered in the sharp sense of tailoring Westwood is known for today, and the period of Anglomania (1993-1999) where Westwood took English tailoring one step further by merging it with the French - A/W 94's tartan padded bum was a highlight. In 2016, Westwood's husband, the designer Andreas Kronthaler, took over the brand's Gold Label, which is now known as Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood. For A/W 21, Kronthaler drew heavily on one of Westwood's most iconic references, the French Rococco painter François Boucher, revisiting the corset from the S/S 91 Portrait collection scoured for on re-sale sites today. The runway has also provided a space for political demonstrations, most recently campaigning against climate change for S/S 20. Vivienne Westwood: The Complete Collections sheds light on the different chapters in the British designer's story so far, leading all the way up to last year's S/S 21 collection by Kronthaler.
Fury, previously SHOWstudio's fashion director (2008-2012), is a walking, talking fashion encyclopaedia. He also houses an archive of over 3,000 designer garments, many of those being iconic Vivienne Westwood pieces, including the iconic dusty pink corset and Kate Moss' frock coat from the A/W 95 show. Hence, he was the obvious choice to chart the incredible career of the legendary British designer. Whether he's narrating the iconic A/W 95 Vive la Cocotte collection for SHOWstudio's The Narrated Catwalk series or analysing a pair of A/W 10 knitted socks in a video essay, Fury truly is a Westwood buff.
The book is the first time Westwood's extensive career has been laid out in print form in such depth. The Catwalk books are extraordinary in mapping out fashion trajectories lost to the pre-digital age. The latest edition features over forty years of Westwood shows, and features over 1,000 looks, endeavouring not to miss a thing.
Vivienne Westwood: The Complete Collections is available now for £55. Purchase here.