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Vivienne Westwood’s Fetishistic Footwear Exhibition

Saturday Aug 28, 2010

LONDON (AP) - An exhibition of nearly 200 shoes by British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, charting her styles over the last four decades, opens at London's Selfridges department store Thursday.

The exhibition, called "Vivienne Westwood Shoes - an Exhibition 1973-2010," showcases pieces by her Vivienne Westwood's archive, including the iconic 1981 Pirate Boots, the nurse inspired 15-centimeter (6-inch) heel Mary Janes and the impossibly high Super Elevated Gillie platform shoes from which Naomi Campbell famously took a catwalk tumble in 1993.

"She looked like a gazelle in slow motion. It was fantastic, she never looked more beautiful," Westwood said of the model, adding "she's a very a proud woman of course, and so she laughed, but when she got backstage she was so angry with me."

Campbell's iconic platforms were just one of the designer's many unconventional footwear creations built on the belief that a woman's beauty is enhanced when she's a few inches off the ground.

Naomi Campbell’s iconic platforms were just one of the designer’s many unconventional footwear creations built on the belief that a woman’s beauty is enhanced when she’s a few inches off the ground.

The 69-year-old Westwood fondly recalls one of her first shoe purchases in the 1950s, a pair of stilettos from a shop in Manchester which she wore to school, earning her a less than approving comment from her teacher, using her maiden name: "'Vivienne Swire, if God had intended us to walk on pins he would have given them to us.'"

She didn't let that stop her then and she doesn't now, claiming a highly manufactured approach to shoe design walks hand in hand with evolution.

"I'm not one of those people who likes the 'no makeup' make up look," she said. "I like artificial things and I think that's what we are. I think civilization is artificial, otherwise we would be living in trees and it's wonderful walking in shoes."

Westwood's creations will be on display at Selfridges permanent arts and exhibitions space, the Ultralounge, from Thursday through Sept. 22.

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