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Start Date 01 April 2004
End Date 11 July 2004
Venue V&A
Location London, England
Curator Claire Wilcox
Designer Azman Architects
In response

Illustrating Westwood: an illustrated response to a fashion exhibition

Illustration of a model wearing white-framed glasses, shorts and a top bearing a collage of Queen Elizabeth II's face with text imposed over her eyes and mouth. A union jack flag is billowing in the background.
An illustration of a white woman's face. Red hair is covering the right side of her face.
An illustration and montage of Vivienne Westwood. The foreground shows Westwood wearing glasses holding a sign bearing a logo of a frowning face with the phrase 'Climate - Revolution -'.

Smriti Gautam
Illustrating Westwood: an illustrated response to a fashion exhibition

Early in 2023, CfFC sent a call out to UAL students to respond, via the medium of illustration, to one exhibition: Vivienne Westwood: A retrospective, at the V&A in 2007. This was an opportunity to celebrate British designer Vivienne Westwood’s life (1941-2022). We offered students the opportunity to reflect on the designer’s oeuvre, the exhibition as an historical record – a snapshot of a moment in fashion culture and fashion curation – and, mostly, have the opportunity to be creative in their practice. This was also a chance to see how one person creatively translated and responded to a physical display recorded on an online archive (Exhibiting Fashion), and a reflection of how this record of the exhibition can affect site users ‘reading’ an exhibition they have never seen.

We commissioned Smriti Gautam (MA Illustration and Visual Media, London College of Fashion) to create three drawings responding to themes presented in the Westwood exhibition, as a way of re-evaluating and reflecting on fashion histories and the lasting impact of very popular exhibitions like these. The exhibition captured a zeitgeist moment in time. Smriti reflected on the material available on the Exhibiting Fashion website and chose three themes, creating illustrations in response:

-Punk Inspiration and Political Commentary
-Eccentric Technique and Unconventional Patterns
-Vivid Colour Palette and Eclectic Style.

This becomes an act of translation and a record of passing time and changing perspectives – from a physical exhibition of 2007 Smriti never saw, to the online record (uploaded in 2021) and the ephemera recording the event stored on the Exhibiting Fashion website, which led to a series of illustrations responding to particular themes in 2023. We celebrate Smriti’s response as yet another way of capturing the different approaches to the practice, process and recording of the work of fashion curation and exhibition making that CfFC encourages.

Smriti Gautam is a designer with a passion for creativity, innovation, and problem-solving. She recently completed her master’s degree in Illustration and Visual Media and have experience in a varied range of design disciplines, including graphic design, lifestyle product design, visual arts, and photography. Gautam’s goal is to use her education and experience to create designs that benefit society and provide meaningful and effective solutions. Her approach to design is centred around empathy and understanding the needs of the end-user.

Gautam completed an apprenticeship at Paper Tango, where she developed a series of high-quality Valentine’s Day greeting cards for luxury jeweller Harry Winston, with Paper Tango, a London-based creative company specializing in paper engineering and graphic design. She also worked as a design associate at GoHive Co-working Spaces, where she was responsible for creating and managing a range of visual content for the company.

About the process for the artworks:

Gautam illustrated these artworks in Procreate. It is a software used for illustration and graphics. Gautam curated these artworks with keeping in mind the language of Vivienne Westwood’s ideology and tried to do justice with it. She created each artwork based on a theme which reflected her inspiration, aesthetics and colours. Since she had a very bold aesthetic Gautam tried to incorporate her slogans and beautiful silhouettes.