The National Portrait Gallery has unveiled its latest commissioned portrait – a photograph of Dame Vivienne Westwood in her garden by artist and photographer Juergen Teller. Commissioned by gallery and exhibited as London Fashion Week draws to a close, the work was made possible by the J.P. Morgan Fund for New Commissions. The portrait of Westwood has gone on public display to celebrate ten years of the company’s support towards new commissions for the Gallery’s Collection.
Dame Vivienne is captured in a 4 foot high, almost full-length photograph standing in the back garden of her London home. The work is considered an informal and intimate portrayal of the celebrated fashion designer, the acclaimed designer is standing in a relaxed manner on her garden path, with clasped hands looking directly at the viewer.
Juergen Teller was invited to take on this commission by both the Gallery and Dame Vivienne after having previously worked with Dame Vivienne on a number of the designer’s fashion campaigns and due to this existing friendship and Teller’s familiarity with her work and style.
In the 1970s, with partner Malcolm McLaren, Westwood co-founded the boutique Let it Rock, later renamed SEX, on London’s King’s Road. It sold the designer’s work, which defined the British Punk movement. Westwood and McLaren’s first catwalk show was staged in 1981. Dame Vivienne Westwood is considered one of Britain’s leading fashion designers and businesswomen; and a campaigner on human rights abuses and climate change.
Juergen Teller studied at the Bayerische Staatslehranstalt für Photographie in Munich, before moving to London in 1986. Considered one of the most important photographers of his generation.
Westwood was twice named Designer of the Year, and is renowned for original cutting and tailoring techniques. A retrospective exhibition of the designer’s work was held at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2004, and she was created Dame in 2006.