“I think there is beauty in everything. What ‘normal’ people would perceive as ugly, I can usually see something of beauty in it” – Alexander McQueen
By using his fashion shows as live art installations, haunting exhibitions showcasing extremes of the human condition and above all proving his unrivaled technical abilities, Alexander McQueen can be credited as the true “enfant terrible” of fashion.
Below is but a snap shot of his illustrious fashion career in stills from his runways, starting with his stint as creative director at Givenchy from 1996-2001, where he immediately began to shock the conservative Parisians with his innovative and edgy designs. His strength as a designer has shone through, evident in the stunning and ethereal 2000 Haute Couture collection.
Givenchy Haute Couture AW 98/ AW 00
At runway shows for his own brand, McQueen showcased a smorgasbord of highly conceptual fashion fused with live art, permeated by ideas and what seems to be a drive and desire to show more than just your average seasonal ready to wear collection.
A/W 1998’s burning circles referenced Joan of Arc, and 1999 saw the now iconic moment where a model in an untainted white dress was almost assaulted with mechanical spray painters in an anti-mass production statement.
The sheer detail in the sets, music, lighting and over all ambiance exuded by well trained models is a far cry from anything seen today.
A tribal inspired collection in 2000, the infamous mental asylum set of 2001 and a chilling clown carousel later that year, a decade before Marc Jacobs’ envisioned his SS 12 version.
In 2002, real wolves accompanied models at a collection showcased in a Parisian dungeon and the “In The Wind Tunnel” themed show of 2003.
In 2005, models were presented in a game of human chess.
2006 and 2007 shows illustrating McQueen’s phenomenal execution of garments.
The SS 08 show was dedicated to McQueen’s influential mentor and campanion, the iconic Isabella Blow. Before the show began, the air was scented with her signature perfume.
McQueen’s wacky sense of humour shines through at the 2009 show inspired by Darwin and the theory of evolution, where the designer took his end of show bow dressed in a bunny suit.
The AW show of that same year saw a set comprised of rubbish and debris recycled from references to other McQueen shows. The show subtitled “Everything But The Kitchen Sink” referenced Givenchy heroin Audrey Hepburn, dogstooth print and Escher’s bird print and hats made from discarded object, championing unconventional beauty.
The SS 10 show which would be the visionary’s last was titled “Plato’s Atlantis” and brought to the forefront the incredible armadillo shoes, and proves when it is viewed in retrospect… what an amazing talent the fashion world lost, two years ago today.
By Freya Drohan
Images: WWD, Hapsical, McQueen archive