The Bowes Museum > Exhibitions > 2011 > Vivienne Westwood Shoes: A World Wide Exhibition

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

 

The Bowes Museum grounds are open!


Due to the government announcement on Thursday 17 December, that County Durham is to remain in COVID tier 3 restrictions, The Bowes Museum unfortunately will remain closed to all visitors. However, the grounds remain open to visitors from 10.00 - 4.00 daily, and we are currently hosting a woodland fairy trail, two spring trails and outdoor guided tours are available from 29 March 2021.

As we have already been shut for a number of weeks and there is much uncertainty around possible further restrictions, we have decided to use this period to undertake some work in Café Bowes, alongside performing some much-needed structural repairs to the building, notably to the windows. January and February are usually quieter times for the Museum, often due to severe weather, so we believe that this is the best time to carry out such works with the least amount of disruption to our visitors.

We have therefore decided to remain closed for a period of four weeks following any near-future tier 2 announcement from the government, as this will allow us time to deep clean the Museum prior to reopening our doors once again. We will, of course, keep you updated as the guidelines change.

Your ongoing support during these unprecedented times is hugely appreciated and we very much look forward to welcoming you back into the building as early as possible in 2021.

We hope to be able to offer a few COVID-safe outdoor events over the coming months, about which we shall make further announcements as soon as possible.