Two decades ago, for autumn/winter 1995/96, Vivienne Westwood presented the Vive La Cocotte collection at the beautiful Carrousel du Louvre in Paris. The collection was inspired by the elegantly dressed intellectual women who frequented the Paris salons of the 17th and 18th centuries – Ninon de l’Enclos in particular. Famed for her beauty and wit, de l’Enclos was a French author, free-thinking intellectual and patron of the arts, known as the original ‘grande cocotte’ (courtesan).
Westwood was inspired by an image of de l’Enclos that showed her in a flat corseted dress, draped across the shoulders to accentuate the female form. This woman, so essential to the intellectual and artistic life of Paris of the past, became Westwood’s ‘heroine of the future’. She took inspiration from the corsetry worn by de l’Enclos, delving into the history of British tailoring and the influence on it of French fashion, and created a collection that embraced the signature style of the historic cocotte, using corsetry and padding to create an emphatically feminine silhouette.
Inspired to take the theme further, Westwood launched a line of Cocotte dresses, which became classics of the house; flat corseted and draped to accentuate the décolletage, the dresses mirror the gown worn by de l’Enclos. The launch of the collection saw the greatest supermodels of the day – Linda Evangelista, Helena Christensen and Kate Moss – take to the catwalk to display the feminine glamour of the Cocotte dress.
This year, the house of Vivienne Westwood celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Vive La Cocotte show with a new limited-edition collection of the iconic dresses, created by the Westwood couture team and available in beautiful silk satin in either rose pink or black. The new collection was launched at an exclusive event at the Davies Street boutique in London, and only 20 pieces have been made; each features Westwood’s signature on the inside of the corset, adding an extra-special touch to these collectable items. The timeless, feminine appeal of these dresses is as relevant today as it was 20 years ago, making them the perfect example of Westwood’s enduring attraction. Available exclusively at the Davies Street boutique, the home of Vivienne Westwood Couture, a Cocotte dress is a must-have piece for any fan of the brand.