The Pagan Years
1988 – 1993
John Fairchild’s 1989 book ‘Chic Savages’ features Vivienne in a list of the world’s top six designers along with Armani, Lagerfeld, Saint Laurent, Lacroix and Ungaro.
Vivienne is appointed as Professor of Fashion at the Vienna Academy of Applied Arts from 1989 to 1991.
In December 1990, the Davies Street boutique opens in London’s Mayfair.
Vivienne receives an award for Fashion Designer of the Year for two years in a row in 1990 and 1991 by the British Fashion Council.
Vivienne receives an O.B.E at Buckingham Palace from her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll in 1992.
Vivienne introduces wedding gowns into her collections in 1992.
In 1992, Vivienne is made an Honorary Senior Fellow of the Royal College of Art (RCA).
Vivienne marries Andreas Kronthaler in 1993, whom she met in 1988 whilst teaching in Vienna.
During this period Vivienne’s heroes shifted from punks and ragamuffins to ‘Tatler’ girls wearing clothes that parodied the upper class. A chance encounter inspired one of her most important and influential collections, Autumn-Winter 1987 ‘Harris Tweed’. “My whole idea for this collection was stolen from a little girl I saw on the tube one day. She couldn’t have been more than 14. She had a little plaited bun, a Harris Tweed jacket, and a bag with a pair of ballet shoes in it. She looked so cool and composed standing there.”
Harris Tweed, Autumn-Winter 1987/88 – Tailored and childish look inspired by Royal Family continued. – Inspiration: British fabrics, especially wool which had provided all the uniforms of the British Empire. – Black velvet. – 18th-century corsetry. – Fine twin sets. – Red Barathea Mini-Crini.
Britain Must Go Pagan, Spring-Summer 1988 – Mythological, Greco-Roman themes. – Titled ‘England Must Go Pagan’ on invitations. – Exploring the 18th and 19th century ‘Age of Enlightenment’. – Referencing the literature of Ancient Greece and Rome. – Typically structured pieces, tailored, narrow proportions with cropped torsos.
Time Machine, Autumn-Winter 1988/89 – Named after H.G Wells’ novella. – Oscillating through different eras – Tailored Harris Tweed suiting. – First reference of the Wallace Collection. – Examining British culture and tradition. – Dedicated to Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. – Men in Norfolk jackets.
Civilizade, Spring-Summer 1989 – Fashion as a didactic tool. – A modern society. – Armoured jackets, rugby jerseys, and harlequins. – Inspiration: mythological beasts. – Blown-up animal print appears for the first time.
Voyage to Cythera, Autumn-Winter 1989/90 – Inspiration: Watteau, Commedia dell’ Arte and Ballets Russes. – Tights worn without skirts. Inspiration: a man who forgot his trousers.- Classic nudity and ancient sculpture. – Homeric themes.
Pagan V, Spring-Summer 1990 – Invitation matched penis sketched underwear. – Exploring philosophies of Hellenistic Greece. – Sailor hats at an angle. – Pinstripes in abundance. – H.M.S ARGO print. – Pyjama suits. – Inspiration: Vases in the Louvre. – Lampshade wiring.
Portrait, Autumn-Winter 1990/91 – Inspiration: Oil painting – the bravura of texture and display of material wealth – Wish to have the luxury of the whole range of fabric from linen underwear to fur (fake). – Furniture designed by Boulle in the Wallace Collection. – Painting by Boucher, ‘Shepherd watching a Sleeping Shepherdess’, to represent the paintings themselves – photographic print. – High platform shoes put the woman on a pedestal like she had stepped out of a painting.
Cut and Slash / Pitti Uomo, Spring-Summer 1991 – Slashed fabric – satin, cotton, denim. – Inspiration: 16th and 17th century mania for cutting and slashing fabric, lasted for 200 years, apparently inspired by a battle. – Codpiece revival. – Swashbuckling down the catwalk. – Broderie Anglaise programme. – Chunky hand-knits.
Dressing Up, Autumn-Winter 1991/92 – Overt Maximalism. – Reimagining tropes and signatures. Boulle patterns. – First collaboration with milliner Prudence. – Figure-hugging versus extremely oversized. – Extended hemlines. – Leather Codpiece skirts.
Salon, Spring-Summer 1992 – The boundaries of gender. – Photographic prints of 18th century lavishness on denim. – Inspiration: elitism and the intellectual’. – Berets and smocks. – Tulle ball gowns. – Cut-out leather.
Always on Camera, Autumn-Winter 1992/93 – Inspiration: 1930’s Hollywood. – Movie star stereotypes. – Storytelling with clothes. – Juxtaposing the Great Depression and recession. – Marlene Dietrich as muse, shared Teutonic background with Andreas Kronthaler. – Stature of Liberty corset. – Padded mohair knitwear. – Models as actors.