Saturday, February 23, 2008

Pretty in Pink

Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne WestwoodVivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood (British, b. 1941). “Propaganda” Dress, fall/winter 2005–6. Lilac silk faille. Purchase, Friends of The Costume Institute Gifts, 2006 (2006.197).

Vivienne Westwood, arguably the most influential British fashion designer of the twentieth century, revels in incendiary provocation and a defiance of convention but nonetheless finds beauty and inspiration in the past. This apparent contradiction, to attempt to upset the status quo while clearly having a consciousness of tradition and history, made Westwood the most representative designer of The Costume Institute’s 2006 exhibition “AngloMania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion.” Given Westwood’s violation of expectations, it should not surprise us that the designer so associated with punk rock, torn T-shirts, and bondage jackets is also capable of creating astonishingly rigorous examples of tailoring and dressmaking.

At the time, Westwood said that this dress was her most important work to date. Comprising a beautifully constructed and boned bodice as its base, the gown has been draped, fitted, and spiraled around the body in one unbroken length. It is an aesthetic marvel, all the more important for the virtuosity of Westwood’s approach, at once conceptually reductive and technically audacious. While the gown might evoke the French haute couture of the 1950s and an attendant impression of retardataire elegance, Westwood’s subversion is in her breaking of any prior conventions of draping and dressmaking.

Comments (143)

  1. Laurie Aron Says:

    This dress is extraordinary. It looks like it was sculpted out of fabric with nary a stitch to sully it.

  2. Justin Says:

    It’s interesting, given Westwood’s penchant for anarchy and perverting traditions, to see such a haute design from her. Besides the obvious grandeur of the dress itself, that combination of late Eighteenth century panniers and mid-Twentieth century debutantes, the color could be the most shocking factor. Sugary pink, from the Grande Dame of punk?

    To me, that’s the real subversion here, and a big part of it’s appeal.

  3. Jessica Says:

    This is so awesome! I would totally wear it because the color and the way it is put together!

  4. annabel Says:

    I would DEFINATELY wear this dress, when, I have know i dea, because the designer must have an occasion in mind, what occasion it is, is beyond me.

  5. Jeanine Says:

    it looks like black rasberry ice cream

  6. looloo Says:


  7. Laurie Aron Says:

    Justin, it certainly is a cavity-inducing pink. Some might take it seriously, but I agree that it’s very subtle subversion. It would have been too easy to accessorize with Doc Martens and a tam o’shanter. Still, the draping is amazing, but I don’t know why that’s subversive. It’s just excellent.

  8. dot beck Says:

    Wonderful show. The dali print is well done. I enjoyed the past dresses of American women living in the 1800s.

  9. marina urbach Says:

    ‘…the color could be the most shocking factor. Sugary pink, from the Grande Dame of punk?
    To me, that’s the real subversion here, and a big part of its appeal.’
    Excellent point. I agree. Indeed ‘very subtle subversion’.
    Subversion in itself is not a value, it depends on what direction it takes.
    …’the draping is amazing, but I don’t know why that’s subversive.’
    The draping is ‘amazing’, as a drawing done in one single, seamless stroke, a stroke of genius: she marks with a seam like line, performing for us the creative process, ‘conceptually reductive’ true, but also very rich! A reductive richness?

  10. jackie Says:

    this is by far one of the most beautiful things i have ever seen…a real classic but a classic with grandeur and stature…it is absolutely stunning and far surpasses any thing else in this particular exhibit

  11. julie.s.shin Says:

    i love this dress
    it kinda
    looks like a dress u cud wear
    at ur sweet sixteen

  12. Anne Says:

    This dress is really wonderful! Vivienne is still one of the fabulous designers in the world!

  13. Mina Says:

    This dress is very elegant, it could be worn to a ball, and would still be the best one out therer how cool would it be if people stilol ahd dresses like this today

  14. Xylophone Says:

    Woah, Vivenne! You are so cray-cray. This dress is special. I like it much. Mmmmmmmm

  15. ZOE Says:

    this is a ‘barbie’ dress!!
    looks uncomfortable

  16. Jegan Says:

    My niece took a picture of this dress at the museum today. When I downloaded, it came out sideways, and I thought it was a tulip or a rose on a black background. Couldn’t remember where we had found such a rare winter bloom. Perfect medicine for a grey winter day.

  17. Laurel Says:

    I’m not the type to wear this kind of clothing, but I think it looks beautiful. It looks very uncomfortable though. My sister would love it though, she loves everything pink and fancy.

  18. Diana Fair Says:

    I thought this was singularly the most beautiful dress I have ever seen. It was like a cloud of plum blossoms in the spring or the first crack of sunrise combined with every faerietale moment I have ever indulged in. Opulent, luscious, lyrical and inspiring. Thank you Vivienne –brava!

  19. bridget Says:

    this is my favorite… and i don’t even like pink.

  20. Kim Mealy Says:

    The dress was exquiste like it could be worn out to a ball even today.

  21. Janet Says:

    Absolutely spectacular. Construction is unbelievable!

  22. Gloria Says:

    Beautiful flowing folds of the most indescribable pink in a slight curve from top to bottom — Although it was over a month ago - January 20th — when my granddaughter and I came to see this exhibit, — the vision of this one dress has stayed with me every day since that time . Because it wasn’t one of that day’s items to blog I made a point to come back here to the site to say this was the dress I always dreamed of as a little girl — THE dress I would someday wear — (although now as an adult, the reality is I have nowhere I could ever wear such a beautiful creation, nor would I want to — its beauty is better left unattainable. The dresses of the French court of the King Louies, beautiful in their own way, didn’t compare, in my eyes and my mind, to the beauty and creation of this.

  23. Ida Says:

    I’d like to wear a dress like this for my wedding!

  24. Fred Maw Says:

    Giancarlo would look great in this

  25. Paco Peralta Says:

    In the world there are only two people who know how to make these dresses: one of them is Christian Lacroix and one is “Vivienne Westwood”. I think that this is all that. This dress is a work of art, surprising for the hearing. Thank you for your presentation. Greetings. Paco

    En el mundo solo hay dos personas que saben hacer estos vestidos: una de ellas es Christian Locroix y otro es “Vivienne Westwood”. Yo pienso que con esto está dicho todo. Este vestido es una obra de arte, sorprendente para la vista. Gracias por su exhibición. saludos. Paco

  26. Val Says:

    Luella uses a similar pink as a signature color, and perhaps this quote from her website is applicable here:
    “Pink is the only true rock and roll colour.” — Paul Simonon

  27. Esther Hwang Says:

    Very avant garde drapery. The hand pinched pleats hug the bodice very well.
    The silhouette is influenced by the hoop skirt and reveals the
    shoulders and top of the bust. Would like to see it in a different color do that the reflectiong of the different angles of drapery show more dramatically.

    Even thought looking at the actual garment is helpful for us,
    fashion students but hopefully in the future we would be
    able to touch and try on the garment or a replica.

  28. Chung Hyun Yoon Says:

    I am impressed by Vivienne Westwood’s “Propaganda”dress!! It is beatifully constructed and draped spirally around the body. It looks like an aesthetic sculpture. I think she has successfully negociated the elegance of the past. I mean this dress remind me dresses in the 18th century such as fitted bodice and fullness of the skirt.

  29. SSB Says:

    this color is mouth-watering. really different from other work of hers that I am familiar with. i guess amazingly creative people can create in alot of different ways.
    i do also love that these designers have their own style - just like fine artists

  30. ? Says:

    i loved this dress and the style of the peice. I thought that the hoop skirt could have been less–hoop-y. but i liked it anyway.

  31. Jonathon Z Says:

    An incredible achievement! An absolute masterwork!

  32. Janet Says:

    Vivienne Westwood is brilliant. The construction of this dress is incredible, and the vision of the draping superb.

  33. margaret Says:

    I never imagined wanting to wear a work of sculpture, but this is the dress of my dreams! It is a magnificent act of skill, worthy of Belanciaga. Brava!

  34. laurel durso Says:

    A dress fit for a princess for any century!

  35. Michelle Says:

    What beautiful creation that any princess or queen from any century would be fit to wear!

  36. Ellie Says:

    It is very pretty, if it were white it would make a wonderful wedding dress.

  37. c willow Says:

    bravo, c’est magnifique, thats all i have to say

  38. gw Says:

    Westwood is defintiely one of my favorite designers–one who retains an element of romantic fantasy in her fashions that I can’t resist.

  39. misha Says:

    amazing and unexpected…totally surprising from Westwood. To me it was yet another illustration of her genious.

  40. Cait Street Says:

    I may be a tad old fashion, but i absolutely love this dress!!!It just flows from the top to the bottom in perfect sych. I would have worn this to my prom if it had been available. It’s stunning!!

  41. Trudy Yip Says:

    one word. Gorgeous. i definitely see myself wearing this dress.

  42. Stephen Addiss Says:

    Magnificent. she combines creativity with expertise in a way totally her own.

  43. Natalie-Marie Says:

    What a fantastically beautiful dress. A modern french court style, I loved it. This was one of my favourites in the exhibit! Mostly because it elicited fantasies of strutting down a red carpet……

  44. Yaeli Says:

    this dress is as said laurie amazing and more over…
    between a fairy tale and gone with the wind a big reference for pretty dresses
    this mythic pink, far away from the vivienne westwood collection during this last seasons… One of my favourite

  45. Ava Clarke - aged 7 Says:

    This is my favourite dress - I like that it is big and a nice shade of pinky colour.

  46. Jennelle Says:

    I would definately wear this to my birthday party!

  47. clair Says:

    I think that its a gorgeous dress a lot of dryping it looks like a ball room danceing dress if it was white I’d wear it on my wedding day!

  48. varsha Says:

    pink candy floss

  49. Edward E Says:

    It is remarkable how beautiful silhouettes change very little. One can easily imagine this dress on Marie Antoinette to Grace Kelly to Gwyneth Paltrow. This gown appears so soft and free flowing on the surface but I would love to see what elaborate structure holds it all together underneath.

  50. Addie Mcnamara Says:

    That is so pretty but when I look at it I wonder where I would wear anything that glamorous. The collection is so pretty and I am amazed by what they wore it is so fancy. The dress is pink my favorite color and has a beautiful bottom half. One thing about it that I would change was the shoulders, I would Just make it have tank top straps. I loved the exibit!

  51. AMELIA Says:


  52. chloe Says:

    that’s good. I iove Vivienne !!!!

  53. NYArt512 Says:

    What more could a girl want! What a great exhibit … just when you think its all been done it begins again.

  54. Tammy Says:

    This is the fantasy dress every little girl dreams of wearing when she’s all grown up. I love it! And I am so fascinated that Ms. Westwood considers this her best piece to date, even though it strays from her trademark style.

  55. Gene Rios Says:

    This dress was one of my two favorites of the exhibit! The color choice to me reflects that of an evening at the ballet, and I could even see the dress itself being adapted to that of a dancer’s costume. Definitely a versatile dress design for its combination of convention and individuality!

  56. Char, Betty and Jane Says:

    What a beautiful dream of the past and present all wrapped up in an extremely beautiful dress. We would never have a chance to wear it, but we can dream!

  57. Alision Says:

    This is the prittiest dress that i have ever seen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  58. fasgeek Says:

    soooooo beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I luuuuuv how its outfit looks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    just the dream make me dance!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  59. Natalie Says:

    This would be the best at a prom!!!!!!!
    You have got to love it!!!!

  60. Lindsey Says:

    This dress is soooo cute and prety!!! I whish I could wear it to prom!! I am so inspired by everything in the display!! I LOVE FASHION!!!!

  61. Rachel Says:

    this dress is sooooo pretty! I love it! I also love pink! BEAUTIFUL! I love how it looks. They designed it very well!

  62. the fashionista Says:

    the most exquisite dress ive ever seen. god i would love to wear this just once. anyone who doesnt think fashion is not art is an idiot. this dress encompasses everything i love about fashion.

  63. Richard M Says:

    this is purty!

  64. Maeve Says:

    I absoulutly love the dress!!! But it is not my style.

  65. Romi Says:

    Its rely nice!!!!

  66. Anna Diyamandoglu Says:

    I really liked this dress. I would never where it to anything but a ball or dinner party, but otherwise I liked it. It has a bit of modern taste to it but then again it has that plain Ball gown look as well. It’s a very bueatiful dress, I would where it any day. I hpoe other paople like it as much as I do.

  67. Rouwenna Says:

    This is perhaps the most beautiful dress I have seen in my life. I feel that by atttempting to describe its beauty and the reaction it provoked in my would be to do the dress and its creator a disservice. I am in awe.

  68. Elena Says:

    To me, this is a testiment of excellent craftsmanship, but achieves no provocation or defiance. It found beauty and acclaim in traditional aesthetics established by the likes of Marie Antoinette and evolved by the haute couture of the Oscars glamazons.

  69. Nessa Says:

    These are honestly the most wild, exquisite, most wonderfully abnormal clothing that I have ever seen. It shows the complete you, while bringing a feminine air to you. I am just speechless.

  70. Roberta Says:

    This Westwood work is beautiful. It has a way of flowing and floating like a pink cloud. If I had to get married, this would probably be my ideal dress. I love that the full skirt takes cues from the 18th centuary. I could not adore this dress more.

  71. Hannah Clayton Says:

    As a photographer, my passion is for photographs and things that have the potential to photograph well. This dress has been one of the most inspirational things I have seen in this museum. I found it truly magnificent.

  72. charlotte warne Says:

    i really liked it! i thought that it was really origanal! it was so cool!

  73. Aly Says:

    exactly what it is…pretty and pink

  74. laura stagno Says:

    I absolutely love this dress and how it flows out at the bottom!

  75. Ian Says:

    This dress was utterly breath taking! Viviene uses excellent couture lines and does an excelent job of accentuating the upper body while allowing the rest of the garment to flow like honey. Seams are used well, overall just a fantastic garment.

  76. Ashley Says:

    I thought this pink dress was fabulous!

  77. PJCLaird Says:

    Looks like Anna’s dress from “King and I,” except it’s pink.

    I would LOVE this dress!!!!

  78. Suzanne Says:


  79. Lulu Says:

    I absolutely adore this fabric

  80. rachel Says:

    this was a beutiful gown amazing :D

  81. Katie Kim Says:

    this is really adorable…i really wanna get it even if it’s not suitable to me :)

  82. Riley Says:

    This dress is like a beautiful, violet cake. A small one though.

  83. Jonathan Yunger Halpern Says:

    It looks like a sleeping beauty dress! I absolutely *heart* it!!!!!!

  84. miranda Says:

    This dress is so pretty and I like the new look for Vivian Westwood

  85. georgia Says:

    i really like the color of it and it’s superdydooper pretty.

  86. Richard Says:

    This is my favorite dress in this particular showing! If you think of a beautiful, magnificent, princessque dress this one is it. Any woman would glow and radiate class and style in this dress. It is amazing!

  87. Lizzie Says:

    this dress is so pretty! and someone could actually wear it in the open. its gorgeous and i love it! props to the designer for making it in only one fabric peice! woo!

  88. meimi1995529 Says:

    the top design is nice but the skirt part is just to much.

  89. libby Says:

    the best dress in the whole exhibit! i would wear it in a heartbeat

  90. mar Says:

    is very beatifull!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and very happy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  91. grace Says:

    I love this dress! the minute i saw it i fell in luv wit it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The color of it is awesome!!!!!!!!!!

  92. Sara Says:

    This dress has graceful lines that mirror other pieces on display from 20+ years earlier… the draping of fabric and the way it flows around the figure is beautiful and will be beautiful for years to come.

  93. PaNCRaSiA Says:

    0MJ THiZ DR3SS iS LiK3 My FaV0RiT3!!!!
    i W0ULD S0 W3aR THiS T0 GRaDUATi0N!!!!

    Y3a BaBy!!!

  94. S Says:

    OH GOD! THIS DRESS IS BEAUTIFUL!!! i want it!!! :D :P

  95. roie82495 Says:

    Pink is the best color ever!!!!!! The top rox sox and flips flops But the bottom dosn’t do either

  96. Anna Says:

    This dress is so pretty and revealing. I wish it was for sale so I could TOTALLY buy it!

  97. Clare Says:

    these dresses are amazing i wish me and my pet monkey could have matching ones, this dress i adore but if it had banana print on it i would adore it even more and somehow i would buy it in an instant.

  98. michelle Says:


  99. Claire Perez Says:

    I like the PRETTY PINK dress. I like the shall kind of wrap around tihng. If it wasnt as poopfy and it was just a dress that just draped down,i think the ioutcome of the dress would really nice and elegant dress.

  100. L (peace) Says:


  101. Tim Says:

    You could take a swim in the pinkness. If you took this dress off and left it in the corner it would make more friends than you would. Even if you were naked.

  102. Maggie C. Says:

    This dress is perfect for a ballroom dance!

  103. KELSEA Says:


  104. david Says:

    For men- who can,t understand this exhibit: Think of it as ART as expressed through Fabric

  105. jeanie Says:

    This dress sends my imagination soaring - I can see myself walking on the moon wearing it or going to a most elegant ball.

  106. Rosh and sheena! Says:

    this is a gorgeous dress! it really brings out her curves and figurette!

  107. Katy D Says:

    This dress reminded me of so many dreams I’ve had of ballrooms in Austria. The contours of the silk reminds me of the feel of the summer air and fragrance of flowers bending in the breeze of a hillside.

  108. Cheryl Says:

    Absolutely breathtaking– the combination of construction and color create a masterpiece that appeals both to those students of high fashion and people on the street.

  109. Marieke Says:

    What a gorgeous dress! And pink is always good;)

  110. Katie Says:

    This is so beautiful, i reminds me of cinderella.

  111. Caroline Says:

    This dress is sooo pretty my favorite color is pink so I like it even more!!!!!!!!!

  112. Stephanie Says:

    this is beautiful

  113. Alex Says:

    I would totally buy this dress for my sister because she loves pink and needs a dress for a Bar Mitzvah :)

  114. Poppy Driver Says:

    This dress is lovely!

  115. Rikki Driver Says:

    This dress is perfect; it looks beautiful - I love it.

  116. Susanne Says:

    This dress was one of my favorites in the exhibit. I thought that the lines of the dress were really gracefull and beautiful and I liked the color as well.

  117. Divadebbi Says:

    Divine!!! This exhibit is the highlight of my day. Madame Gres, Donna Karan,
    John Galliano, Vivienne Westwood all shimmied together, to great effect…

    Loved it!


  118. Theamon Says:

    We loved the dress.
    we hoped to find one just like this for our prom sincewe have seen it a few years ago.
    The pink is extraordinary and especially the size is amazing, you definitely get the attention of people if you actually wear that dress

  119. Angenille Says:

    I love this propaganda dress! It’s so elegant and very different from Westwood’s usual work. The flow is gorgeous and beautiful!
    I love VW!

  120. linda Says:

    Where can I rent this dress. If I ever get married again, I would wear this. What a fun exhibit. Thanks

  121. mary lambert Says:

    i really love this dress. it just says elegance in an understated way. i also love the magenta platforms which reind me of a less flamboyant pair i used to own.

  122. Michelle Says:

    I loved this dress! All princessy, but with enough assymetrical ‘funkinesss’ to make it fun…and wearable.

  123. Darby Says:

    This is a gorgeous dress!

  124. Brandice Henderson Says:

    This dress has inspired me to create an uber fabulous “In the Name of Fashion” event in August. This event will take place in August!

    Be There

  125. alyse Says:

    This dress is off the hook!! I’d buy it any day, if i could. ♥♥♥♥♥ =] <333. and to my friend katy, <555. ♥♥♥♥

  126. she Says:

    i think this dress is stunning. i think thast it would be nice for a fashion show in the time of marie antoinette. (prob. spelled wrong.)

  127. rebecca Says:

    I only have one word to describe this dress: Stunning, absolutely stunning. Any regular girl could put this dress on and be turned into a princess hands-down. This dress belongs in a fairy-tale. I love it :]

  128. Karen Says:

    The flow from old to new enabled you to really be able to see the influences from history that still ring true in the newer gowns from shows in the past 5 years. The full skirts and ruffles seemed to reemerge on 21st century runways. Awesome exhibit!

  129. Eden Says:

    is comme des garcons a company created by French or Japanese people? You have both information on the stickers of the outfits on the stairs.

  130. xandra Says:

    it reminds me of flying!!!!! its great!!!! :)

  131. Vanessa Says:

    it looks exactly like the dress that my mom wore to her prom. and i fit it! mu ha ha ha

  132. Rachel and Chloe Says:

    This dress, the red John Galliano, the russian Chanel, and the Rodarte dress are the only dresses in this exhibit that make me feel that clothing designers have any regard for women. Most of the designs look painful, uncomfortable and misogenistic.

  133. carol Says:

    A dress to die for. Gorgeous

  134. zim Says:

    the dress is so ugly////////////////////”””””’;””””’;;;;;;;zim

  135. Lilia Says:

    the dress is interesting, my sister says that she would like to wear it to her prom. i think that there are to many ruffles and if i had to wear it then i would definately change the color, and the ruffles.

  136. Susan Says:

    Classic and it would be so much fun to wear, especially for dancing….And my 8 year old daughter says: itspretty .I’d wear it if it did not have somany ruffls.

  137. Lan Says:

    i really like the color,however it’s a little too poofy for my taste.

  138. Leigh Says:

    I love this dress and think it is one of the best. The color is like nothing I have ever seen before.

  139. Kaity Tsui Says:

    Simply gorgeous!

  140. Mz. Huffington Says:

    Pretty in pink? I should say not!! What has this place we call a museum coming too? I don’t approve of this kink of exposure to colours! Children should be working on their behavioral patterns not viewing such nonsence as this exposing ensenble!!

    Huruph!! :(

  141. Rachel Says:

    This is really pretty!

  142. yui Says:

    I fell in love with this dress when I first saw the video footage from the runway show. I love it even more today now that I can see exquisite detailing close up in person.

  143. Kelsey Claire Says:

    This dress is magnificent!
    The “Marie Antoinette” form has always been a favorite of mine. It has a smooth and creamy texture that fits the shape of the gown so well. The draping of the top left shoulder presents an emphasis on a dress with only one hue and I think that makes it more interesting. The photograph of all the dresses in this collection together is beautiful and holds great unity.
    I love them! Very theatrical!

Comments are closed.

E-mail It