My dissertation explores an unanswered key question; what does eroticism have to do with the Rococo style of the eighteenth century and why has this hyper-feminine titillation been retold within postmodern fashion and pop culture, over two hundred years later? What is the allure of the Rococo and why is it still so prevalent, even today? Is there a feminist retelling of a period in history which was ruled by an overly-amorous patriarchal king? What can this feminist, post-colonial discourse have in common with a style that was so decadent, it paved an easy way for the French Revolution? What do postmodernism and Vivienne Westwood have to do with it?
After the death of fashion designer and ‘mother of punk’ Vivienne Westwood in late December 2022, there has been renewed interest in the re-telling and revision of her story, I have long been an admirer of Westwood’s design history, her activism and have held a fascination with her feminist pioneering of London’s fashion and music subcultures. I was incredibly fortunate to get the chance to meet her when I was working in the fashion industry as a journalist, and so I feel that this is the best way I could honour her memory as a fashion and design historian.
This dissertation investigates the resurgence of interest in Westwood’s past runway couture collections evoking the Rococo, even before her death. As well as the continuous reinterpretations within the postmodern fashion and dress, up until today.