What fashion student doesn’t love a corset, a favourite product with GCSE and A level students and their teachers. Where better to start your research than with the late Vivian Westwood. TSC were lucky enough to visit the Vivian Westwood Conduit Street store to see her ‘revolutionary’ corsets on show.
Vivienne Westwood’s contribution to modern fashion runs from punk to pearls. But the item that perhaps defines her legacy, the corset, is once again enjoying a moment in the fashion spotlight with shows like the Netflix series Bridgerton and its spin-off Queen Charlotte, at brands including Schiaparelli, Fendi and KNWLS, and worn by celebrities such as Adele, Billie Eilish and the model Bella Hadid.
‘Exploring the house’s subversion of corsetry from 1987 to the present day, ‘Vivienne Westwood Corsets’ examines Westwood’s approach to underwear as outerwear. The exhibition illustrates the intrinsic links of the corset to historical dress, culture and fine art — which continue to serve as a constant source of inspiration for Vivienne Westwood collections today.’
The designer reinvented the corset by updating a structure that dates to the 18th century.
Dolce Cioffi, a heritage manager who worked on the exhibition, said: “Vivienne literally revolutionised corsets; she did it with the eyes of the modern era.
“She was the first one who did underwear as outerwear. She revolutionised the way we perceive something that was repressive and that was made into a tool of female empowerment.”
Historical research was central to Westwood’s craft, Cioffi added: “By referencing the old, you create the new – this is what she used to say.”
Corsets for men have been gaining popularity – Bad Bunny, a Puerto Rican rapper, wore a corset hoodie while performing at the Coachella music festival – but they have been part of the Westwood repertoire since the 90s.
The exhibition’s highlight is two corset jackets embroidered with glass beads to represent the male torso.
Cioffi said: “Vivienne was a pioneer of unisex. Andreas came up with the idea of developing a corset that was made to fit the [male] body rather than readapting a female structure.
Dawn & Nicky 🙂