Stephen Jones picks Vivienne Westwood number as Dress of the Year, Fashion Museum

By Rhiannon Starr | 17 May 2011
A photo of a mannequin in an olive-coloured dress in a display case
© Tom Dorman
Exhibition: Dress of the Year, Fashion Museum, Bath, until January 8 2012

Each year the Fashion Museum of Bath and North East Somerset Council asks a sartorial connoisseur to select an outfit that they believe encapsulates the aesthetic or atmosphere of the year.

For the first time since its inception in 1963, this decision has rested not in the hands of a fashion journalist, but a fashion inventor: the renowned British milliner Stephen Jones.

Awarded an OBE in the Queen’s 2010 Honours List for his services to fashion, Jones was in a unique position to elect the Dress of the Year for 2010.

During his career he has collaborated with the most distinguished designers of the era – from John Galliano to Jean Paul Gaultier – while attracting clientele as diverse as Marilyn Manson, Beyoncé and the late Princess Diana.

In his decision, Jones has addressed the hitherto omission of Dame Vivienne Westwood, as an olive green dress from her Spring/Summer 2010 collection now joins the Dress of the Year archive.

Westwood started designing clothes – later defined as “punk” fashion – in 1971, dressed the Sex Pistols in 1976, and showed her first runway collection in London in 1981.

Since then she has been named British Designer of the Year twice, rewarded with the Outstanding Achievement in Fashion Design at the British Fashion Awards, and named Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Jones has described this particular garment as a “junction in her design oeuvre”, as the revolutionary ripped hems which originated in her King’s Road store, Sex, during the 1970s meet her study of the decorous design codes of the British Royal Family that began in 1985.

The impression that the bicolour taffeta is ripped and torn lends a vivacious and wanton edge to the otherwise demure silhouette, although such an effortlessly deconstructed air is only achieved through the result of a painstakingly calculated cut.

Unfortunately the size constraints of the museum do not allow for an all-inclusive showcase, but Westwood’s sublime creation is on display with an edited selection of previous winners from Mary Quant to Alexander McQueen.

  • Open 10.30am-5pm until October, then 10.30am-4pm. Admission £5.25-£7.25 (includes admission to Assembly Rooms, family ticket £20, seven-day saver tickets including admission to Roman Baths available).
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