Vivienne Westwood

ICONS photographer Zenon Texeira shares his experiences of the Vivienne Westwood Polaroid shoot in Wapping, London, 22-23 November 2006

Following a meeting with the Westwood team a creative direction for the Opus was clearer with as much flexibility as needed to make this production a huge success. Vivienne had voiced, in the form of a written manifesto, her concerns over the lack of culture in Britain and the growing acceptance of the general public for consuming media reports without questioning or challenging what was being reported. The current collection that had been shown in Paris directly related to this manifesto and the Opus would concentrate on a moment in Westwood’s illustrious career rather than try to illustrate her whole life.

It was agreed that the unpublished manifesto, (a script depicting a journey in search of truth) would be a printed in full with the Polaroids sitting beside the text. The conversation flirted with the notion of printing the Opus in a format that allowed the Polaroids to be reproduced life size. That would mean the Opus would stand almost a metre tall… of course, as some of you may well know, that’s exactly what we did.

Vivienne said if we were to arrange dates for Jan to drive the camera from Prague she would reach out to friends and family to attend a shoot where they would pose for us in her outfits. This evolved into a two day shoot in an old, cold, empty cathedral of a warehouse that belonged to London transport. A regular location for film and video shoots, the raw architecture and textures around the building filled me with inspiration. At two opposite sides of the warehouse were the stage sets from Vivienne’s previous Paris fashion shows. As we were backstage in Paris this allowed us to utilise the wooden flowers and flying penises in our compositions.

The empty set ready for the photoshoot.

We set up and wanted to bring everything closer to the giant industrial heater in a corner that was gallantly trying to remove the chill in the air. Today we were shooting with two models, David Serpell (who resembled Keanu Reeves) and Michaela Kocianova (a 16 year old Czech model whose looks would stop traffic). Vivienne and her husband Andreas Kronthaler wanted to use today to shoot for their ad campaigns. Hair and make-up were working out of a smaller, somewhat warmer and cosier room and then sending out the two models in various costumes, from dresses to underwear.

The day was gently paced and produced the results the Westwood team were after. These Polaroids were later used to promote various collections in VogueDazed and ConfusedHarpers and many more.