vivienne westwood and deborah thomas in the 1990’s.
Canberra Vivienne Westwood 00 Copy

Canberra in the early 1990’s when Lionel needed a media pass Canberra the early nineties I needed a Media Pass-ticket to the National Gallery to review The Fashion Show, a spectacular exhibition of fashion to be opened by the extraordinary Vivienne Westwood. The media had swarmed which left no tickets for us little reviewers to the extravagant Gala opening Night. An emergency phone call to Deborah Thomas then the Editor of Vogue in Sydney whom I had known from art school in Melbourne followed. She called me back in Canberra, she was in a similar pickle, she couldn’t get any accommodation anywhere in Canberra. Problem solved, one condition I would have to partner her for the opening, and she could stay at my apartment…too easy.

That Saturday I picked her up at Canberra airport in my 1960’s VW Beetle in time to change into our party gear then on to the show. Before going to the airport I had yet to interview and photograph Vivienne Westwood at the press launch. At the launch I presented Ms Westwood with a Titty mug, a penis shaped lipstick, and a string of condoms, on behalf of all the working girls in ACT (the sex industry workers). She loved the interview, which was partly captured by the local TV News crew. “Mmmmh I hope I get to use all of them” (referring to the colored condoms), Westwood purred. The TV camera’s shut down and the interview was over, this lady was far too raunchy for poor old Canberra.

On the strength of that interview, she awarded me a personal invite to the opening of the show. She also asked me to invite a dozen or more “close and personal friends” to a private lunch around the pool at the National Gallery sculpture garden the next day. A few calls that night to Melbourne and my friends Allison Kelly a Curator, Michael Nicholls of the NGV Melbourne, and others arrived in town for the lunch and show. .

Melbourne Milliner Peter Jago turned up in cockatoo feathers upstaging Viviennes outfit somewhat, and he was not invited to lunch (my decision, not Viviennes). Later that night Deborah and her entourage of black clothed fashion magazine editors, Cosmo Elle etc, tracked me down in a downtown Canberra nightclub, OOPS I’d lost her at the opening, and she didn’t know my address or have a key. Dropped Deborah off at airport on way to lunch with superstar Vivienne Westwood, thanks Deborah and Vivienne.

The following photos from the interview session Media Launch and the after-noon garden lunch Dressed to Kill Fashion Exhibition National Gallery Canberra Australia.

Vivienne Westwood photographs by Allison Kelly copyright
Tim McKew and Deborah Thomas