Westwood’s Iconic ‘Portrait’ Collection

If we’re talking about vintage boutique clothes, you don’t have to look too far into the past to find some truly iconic design. Vivienne Westwood’s autumn/winter collection unveiled in 1990 consisted of some of the British brands most inspiring and influential ideas – the brilliant ‘Portrait’ collection.

The now-rare series can be best characterised by the use of classical portraits, inspired by her blossoming obsession with the Wallace Collection that she’d later return to, overlaid onto other classical dress forms. The collection became a form of pastiche of historical styles – bringing the corset back into fashion consciousness, but updated with a modern panelled style and zip fastening as a good example.

The paintings chosen, by François Boucher, had special meaning to the designer. Talking about the collection in an interview about the Wallace Collection, Westwood said: “I wanted canvas in my collection and even more I wanted an actual photographic painting and that is when I decided to choose the Boucher, as being so typical and so pretty.”

When these garments were worn on the catwalk, the models also wore huge platform shoes, which almost literally put them on a pedestal as pieces of art, and as such, it truly signalled the move from street style to haute couture in Westwood’s design ethos.

We’re lucky enough to have some great original pieces from the collection in stock now, including a full ensemble from the menswear collection as well as an incredible corset, featuring a painting of ‘Daphnis and Chloe’ by Boucher.

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