“I didn’t want to be a fashion designer at all,” Dame Vivienne Westwood told the New York Times. “I did it to help my boyfriend.” Her boyfriend was, of course, Malcolm McLaren, manager of the Sex Pistols. Together, they invented the radical punk style of the ’70s: safety pins, ripped T-shirts, spiked dog collars around the neck. How Westwood went from the streets to the high-fashion runways is the focus of the new exhibit at FIT titled Vivienne Westwood 1980–89. The collection tracks her transition from her 1981 unisex pirate-themed collection to creating styles that were more feminine and structured, gaining her a wider audience and more attention from the mainstream press. The exhibition features highlights from her collections (including her iconic “Rocking Horse” boots), footage from the runway shows, photographs from magazines, and video interviews with Westwood.

March 8-April 2, 2011