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Dame Vivienne Westwood's personal wardrobe to be auctioned for charity

Lauretta Roberts
22 April 2024

The personal wardrobe of revolutionary British fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood is to be auctioned in aid of the charitable causes she championed during her life. 

Punk pioneer Dame Vivienne died at the age of 81 in December 2022 and her label continues to be run under the creative direction of her husband Andreas Kronthaler, who has selected the looks to be sold across two auctions. Proceeds from the sales will go to The Vivienne Foundation, Amnesty International and Médecins Sans Frontières, alongside THE BIGPICTURE – Vivienne’s Playing Cards, a project by The Vivienne Foundation to raise funds for Greenpeace.

Auction house Christie's will stage a live sale in London on 25 June with an online auction taking place alongside from 14 to 28 June 2024. Some 200 lots spanning four decades of fashion will be available. Members of the public will get the chance to view the collection before it goes under the hammer at a free public exhibition, showcasing Vivienne Westwood: The Personal Collection, at Christie’s headquarters on King Street, London from 14 to 24 June.

Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood Witches AW83/83 (Image: Christie's)

One of the earliest lots comes from Vivienne Westwood's Witches AW83/84 collection, which was inspired in part by witchcraft and Keith Haring’s graphic code of magic symbols. The collection featured swirling silhouettes, enormous peaked shoulders and layered knitwear – a two-piece ensemble of navy-blue serge from the collection, which was presented in Paris to critical acclaim, will be available to buy,

Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood Dressed to Scale, AW98/99

Also in the sale is a corset gown of taupe silk taffeta from Dressed to Scale, AW98/99, in which Westwood played with scale to create a sense of displacement in a technique akin to Surrealism. In this collection elements of a garment were blown up to become the decorative focus and these extremes referenced the fashions that were documented by the 18th Century satirist James Gillray and were intended to attract as well as provoke thought and debate.

Propaganda, AW05/06, was the designer's most overtly political show, referencing her punk days as well as an essay by Aldous Huxley, titled Propaganda in a Democratic Society – a dress with blue and white striped blouse and printed propaganda modesty panel and apron is featured in the sale.

Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood Propaganda AW05/06 (Image: Christie's)

Adrian Hume Sayer, Director Private & Iconic Collections, Christie’s, Head of Sale said: “Vivienne Westwood’s sense of activism, art and style is embedded in each and every piece that she created. The pre-sale exhibition and auctions at Christie’s will celebrate her extraordinary vision with a selection of looks that mark significant moments not only in her career, but also in her personal life. This will be a unique opportunity for audiences to encounter both the public and the private world of the great Dame Vivienne Westwood and to raise funds for the causes in which she so ardently believed.”

Vivienne Westwood

(Image: Christie's)

The Vivienne Foundation added: “Vivienne was a style icon throughout her lifetime. Her deep interest in intellectual and political ideas informed her natural skill in fashion design, where she became one of the very few true originators. There will simply never be another Vivienne Westwood.”

To mark the sale Kronthaler penned a version in tribute to his late wife:

A genius born 1941 
Vivienne was a rebel 
An outsider who had a calling 
To be different 
To explode the system 
She was an original thinker 
Vivienne was our heroine

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