Vivienne Westwood & Juergen Teller Exhibition - Celebrating a Decade-Long Collaboration

Tonight, around the corner from Trump Tower and its round-the-clock protestors, a different set of agitators will be assembling. Vivienne Westwood, the trailblazing designer-turned-outspoken climate change activist, set up shop at 14 East 55th Street earlier this year. To celebrate the U.S. flagship’s opening, Andreas Kronthaler, Westwood’s husband and the creative director of the brand, is hosting an exhibition of photographer Juergen Teller’s 10 years of rule-breaking campaigns for the label.

 

 Picture of the exhibition; Font: Vogue.com

 

Teller has long-running partnerships with other brands (Marc Jacobs, 17 years; Céline, since Phoebe Philo’s first collection circa 2010). What makes his relationship with Westwood and Kronthaler unique is the fact that he shoots both of them for the ads, an idea he came to them with. In his earliest portrait of Westwood, photographed for Paris Vogue circa 1993, the designer sports a choppy boy cut courtesy of Kronthaler, with platform shoes punctuating legs akimbo. It is utterly unlike the formal, Photoshopped designer headshots so often encountered in this industry. Candid, intimate, and riveting, it became a template for all of his portraits of Westwood that came after, including the sensational nudes he took of the flame-haired, porcelain-skinned then sexagenarian in 2009—Westwood is now 76.

 

Three Westwood nudes were the centerpiece of Teller’s 2013 ICA exhibition in London—at “three meters 40” wide, as he says, how could they not be? On the third and fourth floor of Westwood’s new Beaux Arts-era New York townhouse, the nudes are printed on magazine paper and fixed to the wall unframed, with simple stick pins. (For the record, there are no naked Kronthalers, although he does turn up shirtless in his Speedo in more than a few pics.)

 

“Unpretentious,” says Teller, nodding at the installation. “This is fluid and natural, and it shows how we work.” He continues: “I like people with conviction, who are in control of themselves. I’m not interested in working with a designer who hires a creative director… If we fuck up the shoot, we fuck up the shoot. For us it’s very effortless; it’s tiring, because they push me a lot, but it’s effortless.” Kronthaler seconds the notion, championing Teller’s spontaneity, friendship, and backhand. When they’re not working together, they sometimes play tennis and the photographer tends to win.

 

 Picture of the exhibition; Font: Vogue.com

 

As for the abovementioned agitating, Westwood is in between lectures in Berlin and London and will have to raise a glass remotely. But she did weigh in via email: “I know that Trump is the devil, but that doesn’t mean to say Obama’s a saint. The point is: You won’t change the President until you change the financial system. It’s a war economy—wars are fought for power, of course: land, raw materials, cheap labor. It’s a system designed to create poverty, climate change, and incredible waste, so that any profit is syphoned off by the 1 percent. The answer is a Green Economy which is based on the fact that what nature gives us free should not be privately owned—this means land, sky, and underground. This is my campaign as an activist. At the moment, I’m giving talks about culture, I would like to give them in America eventually—we would save ourselves if we had true culture in place of consumption. As a fashion designer, the best thing I’ve ever said is: ‘Buy Less, Choose Well, Make it Last.’”

 

Also, there will be living windows at the opening tonight, and we did see a Trump mask amidst the construction materials.

 

The exhibition is open to the public through mid-October.

 

Font: Vogue.com

 

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