My friend Kim and I MacGyvered together a trip to San Francisco when we heard that this exhibit was making its only US stop at the DeYoung. Early Tuesday morning we hopped aboard a discounted Southwest Airlines flight to Oakland and shuttled to a modest motel near the Presidio. The location ended up being perfect since the bus picked us up across the street and dropped us at our door. Yeah...the good old #43... which became our daily entertainment with its interesting assortment of drivers and riders.
A large clock hung at the entrance to the exhibit, showing 13 hours in a day with hands continually spinning backwards. The original clock of that designed hangs at the World's End Boutique, Westwood's store London. Westwood's clothing innovations have included corsetry, luxurious evening and couture bridal gowns, underwear/outerwear designs, political slogans as prints, asymmetry, rips and zippers, and tartan plaid kilt skirts for men. We were treated to over 150 items designed by Westwood including an early tee shirt designed for the Sex Pistols created from boiled chicken bones that spelled out ROCK and suspended from the fabric with metal rings. At that time, words weren't even used on clothing...much less spelled out in animal bones.
Some of my favorite pieces were the tartan plaids (one she had specifically designed in honor of her third husband) and the long row of classically constructed corsetry embellished in wild and wonderful ways. We also got to see the famous blue mock-croc platform shoes Naomi Campbell wore when she fell on the catwalk in 1993. The exhibit concluded with a collection of incredible ball gowns designed in such a large scale they could not fit on the catwalk. Experiencing the transformation of her work as a self-taught designer moving from deconstructed tees to beautifully engineered suits and gowns was inspiring. Well that word doesn't quite describe what I experienced...I'll add... Awed. Humbled. Captivated. In sync. Turned on. Surprised. Joyful. Confused. In over my head. Quite a range of emotions.
In the filmed interview shown at the conclusion of the exhibit, Westwood modestly described fashion as the "manipulation of materials" and stated that "You have a better life if you wear impressive clothes."