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News Archive >> Vivienne Westwood - "36 Years in Fashion"

Vivienne Westwood @ de Young MuseumVivienne Westwood
36 Years in Fashion

de Young Museum (March 3rd - June 10th)

50 Tea Garden Dr.
San Francisco, CA, 94118
(415) 863-3330

+ Admission ----------> $15 (Each Adult)
+ Tuesday thru Sunday ----------> (9:30 A.M. to 5:15 P.M.)
+ Friday ----------> (9:30 A.M. to 8:45 P.M.)

Being a visitor to NANA-NANA.net, I'm sure many of you are familiar with Vivienne Westwood's fashion through the manga / anime / movie, "NANA." We know that a VW T-shirt can cost both your arms and your legs; VW jewelry are SO beautiful and exotic, that they may be the most bootlegged jewelry line on Ebay; And the mention of VW's Rocking Horse Shoes can send any fan into a fit of lust -- Just listen to Mika Nakashima's song, "Rocking Horse" on her third album, "Music"; She describes the feeling perfectly. So when news of a Vivienne Westwood exhibit was going to take place in San Francisco, I HAD to go or I'll never stop crying...!!

On March 17th, I dragged my friend Helen all the way to San Francisco, to see the Vivienne Westwood :: 36 Years in Fashion exhibit at the de Young Museum. This event was heavily anticipated by art and fashion lovers in the United States for quite some time now. The British fashion designer, Vivienne Westwood, is one of the most influential designers in the world. Accredited as the creator of modern punk fashion, Vivienne Westwood has-- and will continue to inspire generations of artists throughout the years. The exhibit at the de Young Museum would be its only stop in the US, showcasing decades of Vivienne Westwood's art and fashion. When me and Helen finally arrived (after a 3 hour traffic jam) to the exhibit, we were not surprised at all to see that the de Young Museum was packed with spectators.

Right when you enter the exhibit, you get a taste of Vivienne Westwood's punk flavor through her "Anarchy in the UK" display. The Sex Pistols are greatly mentioned throughout this portion of the showcase. Framed posters, leather and chains, and even Vivienne Westwood's provocative Swastika shirts hung boldly on the mannequins. At this point, you're probably wondering, "So umm... Did you take any pictures...?" Sorry, but I couldn't. The exhibit was swarmed with security guards, ready to pull away your camera if you are caught snapping photos. I know, what a drag, right...? Moving on...

Throughout the exhibit, every time I came across something I recognized, I wanted to scream out, "NANA!" I know it sounds nerdy, but when I came across the "Love Suit," I almost cried. Among "NANA" fans, the "Love Suit" is very iconic; Almost signifying that Nana Oosaki herself was in the room. And of course, beautifully matched with the "Love Suit" are the "Rocking Horse" shoes which laid casually at the mannequin's feet. It was really a moment, to gaze at the outfit just a yard distance away from me. And for the rest of the exhibit, everytime I see another familiar jewelry, jacket, or dress, I'd share another moment in awe.

Vivienne Westwood's exhibit goes from "punk," to "royalty," to "time travel," to "super high heels," to "blinging courtesan." Many of her designs towards the middle-to-the-end of the exhibit, (like the Harlequin) were almost cosplay-ish. Shoes that were on display, seemed impossible to walk in because the heels must be at least a foot tall! The colors on gowns became really bright and vibrant as well. There was one dress, that was covered entirely in expensive glass beads! Recognizing that Vivienne Westwood's creativity in her designs went above and beyond, was an understatement. A really fun part of the exhibit was easedropping on what others' thought of Vivienne Westwood's designs:

  1. One older gentleman said to his wife, after viewing the Princess Suit, "It just gets more ridiculous from here, doesn't it...?"

  2. A restless boyfriend was trying to sneak out of the exhibit from his girlfriend, said, "So this is all clothes...? I'll just wait for you outside-- Holy shit...! Is that chicken...?" His eyes have come upon a black shirt, with tiny (probably chicken) bones spelling out the words, "Rock."

  3. Another dude was heard commenting, "So... Who wears this stuff...? Other than Madonna, that is..." My answer for him, would've been Sarah Jessica Parker and Reese Witherspoon.

From the looks of it, the ladies actually enjoyed the exhibit more than the guys did. I spotted in the crowd of spectators, some neon-colored gothic lolitas. A lot of punk-fashioned girls were also present, exclaiming to their friends, "Oh my god! She (Vivienne Westwood) is totally my new idol!! I LOVE her!!

And of course, de Young Museum's souvenir store greatly profitted from the lady shoppers. Located just outside of the exhibit, is a short hallway-store of fashion themed merchandise. On sale are magnets, postcards, and books after books about Vivienne Westwood's fashion designs. There is also a special T-shirt for Vivienne Westwood's 36 Years in Fashion Tour, which costs exactly $100 (before San Francisco's 8.5% tax). But the best portion of the store, is the glass jewelry counter with a LOT of Vivienne Westwood jewelry for sale! Be warned ladies: The jewelry are very expensive. Even the cheapest necklace costs approximately $100!!

It was at the jewelry counter, that I got into trouble. My eyes locked with the prettiest pink accessory, known as the "Safety Orb Choker." I fell in love with it immediately and couldn't stop thinking about it...!! Or it's price tag...!! Helen tried to do me a favor by dragging me away, but I kept whining and whining and whining. I wandered back to the jewelry counter several times, and the sales-girl really felt sorry for me. She told me that throughout the day, there are a lot of girls like me, who fall in love with one of the pieces and can't let it go. They too, would wander back to the jewelry counter several times. Finally, after making a rather reckless decision, I walked to the ATM machine, withdrew all of NANA-NANA.net's "update money," and spent it on the "Safety Orb Choker." (I'm sorry... No magazine scans for at least two months!) I'm going to be skipping lunches for a month or two, but I love it so much!

I would love to tell you more about the Vivienne Westwood exhibit, but honestly, my words won't do it justice. Its something that has to be witnessed and experienced with your own eyes. It isn't simply "clothing." Fact is, viewing the exhibit was like looking into the heart of one woman and her whole life's work. Her creative mind and soul was put on display for you to see. And I must say, that its a very vibrant and shiny soul. After touring through the showcase, at the very end, Vivienne Westwood leaves behind a very thoughtful message for you:

“You have a much better life
if you wear impressive clothes.”

~ Vivienne Westwood

[ PS: ] I hope you guys know, I was joking about spending the "update money," right...? Right...? ^__^...??

Vivienne Westwood - "36 Years in Fashion" Flyers & Postcards

Event Flyer @
de Young Museum

Event Flyer @
de Young Museum

Vivienne Westwood
By Alastair Thain

Harris Tweed Minnie Mouse Ears
"Love Suit" - Autumn / Winter 1987-1988

Sarah Stockbridge on Saddle
Spring / Summer 1988

"God Save the Queen" T-Shirt - 1977
Pants - 1980

Anglomania Collection
Autumn / Winter 1993

Sarah Stockbridge
Autumn / Winter 1987-1988

Spring / Summer 2002

Naomi Campbell Falling
Autumn / Winter 1993-1994

Girl Wearing Harlequin
Autumn / Winter 1989-1990