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A Collector’s Story: A Private Collection of Vivienne Westwood

Barnard Castle
22 July 2023 @ 10:00 am - 4 February 2024 @ 5:00 pm

A snapshot of the late Vivienne Westwood’s career through the eyes of collector, Peter Smithson. Items from the Museum’s collection that echo and contextualise historical references in Westwood’s work are displayed alongside.

This new exhibition in the Fashion & Textile Gallery at The Bowes Museum shows a snapshot from the late Vivienne Westwood’s career through the eyes of collector, Peter Smithson. Peter has collected Westwood for nearly thirty years, with a particular focus on the years from Mini-Crini (1986) to Storm in a Teacup (1996/97). The exhibition includes complete ensembles from significant collections across the 1980s and 1990s, as well as accessories and ephemera from Peter’s collection.

The earliest Westwood outfit on display is from Mini-Crini (1986) and features one of her signature mini-skirts inspired by the crinolines of the 1850s. An Armour jacket from Time Machine (AW 1988/89) reflects the shape of metal armour in its construction from heavy tweed. An amazing black velvet catsuit from Portrait (AW 1990/91) is printed with gold ink in a design inspired by seventeenth-century French cabinetmaker, André-Charles Boulle. Two ensembles from On Liberty (AW 1994/95) and Storm in a Teacup (AW 1996/97) explore and disrupt the history of tartan and tweed in fashion.

Westwood was very inspired by art and fashion, cultural and social history. Objects from The Bowes Museum’s stored collections are displayed alongside her creations to show historical sources for her ideas and to examine materials and techniques.

They include armour, an early seventeenth-century portrait miniature, a pair of miniature Boulle plinths, and a limited edition Westwood plate with a lace design, produced by Coalport in 2003. From the Fashion & Textile collection, tapestry seat covers and a rare pile fabric picture purchased by Joséphine and John Bowes, are on show, as well as a pair of eighteenth-century stays, bustles, shoes, lace from the Blackborne Lace Collection, and children’s clothes from local shop Milners in Middleham.

N.B. The exhibition is the result of a collaboration between The Bowes Museum and private collector Peter Smithson. It is not an institutional partnership with Vivienne Westwood Limited.


Start: July 22 @ 10:00 am
End: 4 February 2024 @ 5:00 pm
Cost: £18
Event CategoryOther Events


Venue Name: The Bowes Museum
Address: Barnard Castle
County Durham, DL12 8NP

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