I really wasn’t expecting all that much. I’d been to the Mori Arts Center Gallery once before for a Hello Kitty exhibit and it was actually pretty lame but we needed something to do and so I thought I’d check it out. I knew it was a clothing exhibit and that was about it so my expectations were pretty low. Boy was I surprised.
First off, I didn’t know who Vivienne Westwood was. Sure, I’d seen her name somewhere on some boutique probably in Harajuku or Omotesando before but other than that I had no idea.
It turns out she is supposedly one of the founders of “punk” clothing as in the clothing punk rockers wore when that whole thing started. At first I was kind of thinking “so what, big deal” but as I looked at the exhibit I realized that although many of the kinds of things on display are not shocking now, back in the 70s this was pretty controversial stuff.
I was also completely inspired by her creativity. It’s one thing to make generic Gap clothing but quite another to make truly custom and unique clothing from scratch and not the kind where you follow a pattern but making it totally from your own designs. She didn’t do just punk, that’s just where she started. There were over 150 units on display of which maybe only 20 of them were “punk”. Also, if I got this correctly she didn’t set out to be a fashion designer. It’s only after years of making fashions did she realize that she happened to be doing fashion design.
She not only made amazing clothing but she and her husband decorated their store to the extreme apparently. There were no pictures but at least from the descriptions they sounded pretty amazing the amount of work they put into the interior design completely remodelling every few years. At one point her store was designed like the inside of a pirate ship tossing in the sea with the entire floor tilted.
Another thing I came away with is just what kind of personality it takes to wear those kinds of clothes. Some of the clothing are pretty outrageous and without the kind of personality that can wear something like that with total confidence they would never work.
While it’s not quite as cool as seeing it live you can see much of the exhibit on this site. Click the links under “The Exhibition” and you can see her clothing and read about their original stores.