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Editors Pick: Alexander McQueen
March 12, 2015
With London battling it out over two major Alexander McQueen retrospectives; from the V&A’s Savage Beauty to the Tate’s photographic documentation of the ‘Horn of Plenty’ collection (2007) by Nick Waplington, we take a look back at the late designers early shock tactics which aptly earned him the name of ‘the hooligan of English fashion’.
Let’s start with the coveted trend of low-rise jeans in the early 2000s, these were inspired by McQueen’s Bumster trousers from a collection named ‘Highland Rape’ in 1995.
“I wanted to elongate the body…The bottom of the spine – that’s the most erotic part of anyone’s body, man or woman.”
– Alexander McQueen
Next in 1998, his show ‘The Golden Shower’ (also called ‘Untitled due to his corporate American Express sponsors) featured a yellow lit catwalk with all-white clothing and a more than memorable ending when the models were soaked and garments were made transparent by a rain feature above the catwalk.
One of my most favourite collections from McQueen was indeed his no.13 ready-to-wear from 1999. Inspired by a Rebecca Horn installation of two shotguns firing blood-red paint at each other, model Shalom Harlow was then rotated and ‘attacked’ by two robotic arms spray-painting her. A symbolic approach to the mass production of fashion and his own commitment to the creative war against corporate ennui in fashion. Thus cementing his status as an artist as well as fashion designer.
A huge leap in catwalk theatrics, McQueen’s Autumn/Winter 2006 collection featured a ghostly Kate Moss as a holographic projection for the finale. Created by Baillie Walsh using the optical technique known as Pepper’s Ghost, this dream-like apparition has dubbed the organza dress Kate was wearing at the time as the ‘hologram’ dress which she has since worn in a 2011 edition of Harpers Bazaar to commemorate the designers memory.
Since then, McQueen spurred a plethora of trends which included digital prints from Spring/Summer 2009 and the now infamous Armadillo heels of Spring/Summer 2010 – a show named Plato’s Atlantis and the first ever catwalk to be live streamed online, in collaboration with SHOWstudio.
The man was indeed a visionary, even after death we are still transfixed and transformed by the late designers talent and eye for creating trends. In the words of Kate Moss “There’s never ever going to be anybody like him.”