A French chateau in the North of England
Housing outstanding collections of European fine and decorative art
Park & Gardens
Groups & Coaches
Meet and Celebrate
Jobs & Volunteering
Explore The Collection
Research & Scholarship
Library & Archive
How Your Support Helps
Friends of The Bowes Museum
The Friends' Committee
History of the Friends
Schedule of Events
Vivienne Westwood Shoes: A World Wide Exhibition
This exhibition celebrated the ingenuity and creativity of British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, focusing on her designs of the ultimate fetish object: the shoe.
Following the success of the exhibition premiered in London, Vivienne Westwood presented this unique collection, showcasing over 40 years of design, around the World. This international exhibition, previewed in both Moscow and Beirut, travelled back to the UK where it showcased here.
Visitors only had one month to catch the prestigious exhibition before it then travelled to Japan, New York and China.
The exhibition showcased around 200 shoe designs and traced the exceptional success of Dame Westwood’s career to date. Illustrating her defiance of the rules of wearability and convention, the exhibition was also evidence of her uncompromising quest for superb craftsmanship and attention to detail.
Westwood’s designs are a result of considered and distinctive influences - 16th Century Dutch Delft pottery as the inspiration for her 1996 Toile Print Boot, British colonialism reflected in the Sahara Plimsoll of 1999, Victorian dandyism influencing the 1996 Trompe l’Oeil Boot and Westwood’s nurse inspired 15.5 centimetre heel Mary Janes of Erotic Zones a salute to S/M and fetishism. Her shoes have also gained a reputation and created memorable fashion moments - the tumbling of Naomi Campbell when wearing the Super Elevated Gillie on the catwalk in 1993, the Rocking Horse which became an instant collectible when it appeared in 1986 and her Pirate Boots, first seen in 1981 but remain popular and in demand to the present day.
Today, Vivienne Westwood’s shoes are celebrated the world over for leading the way in design, creativity and style and have become famous British icons in their own right.
“Shoes must have very high heels and platforms to put women’s beauty on a pedestal” - Vivienne Westwood