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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Autumn Edition: Alexander McQueen's Vision

“You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition.”
—Alexander McQueen

 Alexander McQueen's creations championed the authority of the imagination and self expression. McQueen paved his own path and created a genre of fashion all his own. As a fearless individual, he always followed his own visions and redefined the meaning of high fashion. 

  “What I am trying to bring to fashion is a sort of originality,”  (McQueen)    

His methods of cutting and construction were created without instruction. He was classically trained, but at times he would be inspired to create on the dress forms entirely.  Innovational is the best way to describe his work. His ideas were both revolutionary and ingenious, simply because they came from a place no other designer explored. His forms and silhouettes were questionable, in the sense they distorted the female form. He was a designer that made you think. Blurring the lines of beauty and ugly, while making you question what you felt, and thought.
The  “bumster,” a type of silhouette-form that he created and used since his earliest collections, was a distortion on the human form and yet quite unforgettable. Everything he did was completely questionable while being totally mesmerizing.

In the spirit of Fall, I have compiled his iconic Autumn/Winter Collections, and referenced them in McQueen's own words. 
All his collections begin with an idea, form into a concept, and then the fashions can begin. From there he can create an elaborate storyboard full of references and inspirations from art, film, music, etc. His runway shows were more of a theatrical performance than a simple fashion show. 

 The Girl Who Lived in a Tree 
Autumn/Winter 2008-2009

“I don’t really get inspired [by specific women]. . . . It’s more in the minds of the women in the past, like Catherine the Great, or Marie Antoinette. People who were doomed. Joan of Arc or Colette. Iconic women.”

- Alexander McQueen

  It's a Jungle Out There

 Autumn/Winter 1997-1998

“When you see a woman wearing McQueen, there’s a certain hardness to the clothes that makes her look powerful. It kind of fends people off.”

“The whole show feeling was about the Thomson’s gazelle. It’s a poor little critter—the markings are lovely, it’s got these dark eyes, the white and black with the tan markings on the side, the horns—but it is the food chain of Africa. As soon as it’s born it’s dead, I mean you’re lucky if it lasts a few months, and that’s how I see human life, in the same way. You know, we can all be discarded quite easily. . . . You’re there, you’re gone, it’s a jungle out there!”
-Alexander McQueen 

  Angels and Demons

  Autumn/Winter 2010-2011

 When Alexander McQueen died in February of 2010, he left this collection, called Angels and Demons, unfinished in his studio. Sarah Burton, McQueen’s chief designer for many years, helped to complete it.
“I relate more to that cold, austere asceticism of the Flemish masters, and I also love the macabre thing you see in Tudor and Jacobean portraiture.”
“For me, what I do is an artistic expression which is channeled through me. Fashion is just the medium.”

-Alexander McQueen

 Highland Rape

 Autumn/Winter 1995-96

“When I design, I try to sell an image of a woman that I have in [my] mind, a concept that changes dramatically each season.”
“[In this collection] she was a feral creature living in the tree. When she decided to descend to earth, she transformed into a princess.”
“[This collection] was a shout against English designers . . . doing flamboyant Scottish clothes. My father’s family originates from the Isle of Skye, and I’d studied the history of the Scottish upheavals and the Clearances. People were so unintelligent they thought this was about women being raped—yet Highland Rape was about England’s rape of Scotland.”

-Alexander McQueen

Autumn/Winter 1996-1997

“People find my things sometimes aggressive. But I don’t see it as aggressive. I see it as romantic, dealing with a dark side of personality.”

- Alexander McQueen

In the Victorian era, each stage of mourning referenced a specific color. Lilac, as seen inthis corset’s jet beading is also associated with mourning. Here, McQueen petically hints the beauty that exists, even in death. 

 Widows of Culloden

  Autumn/Winter 2006-2007

“When we put the antlers on the model and then draped over it the lace embroidery that we had made, we had to poke them through a £2,000 piece of work. But then it worked because it looks like she’s rammed the piece of lace with her antlers. There’s always spontaneity. You’ve got to allow for that in my shows.”
“I have always loved the mechanics of nature and to a greater or lesser extent my work is always informed by that."
“Birds in flight fascinate me. I admire eagles and falcons. I’m inspired by a feather but also its color, its graphics, its weightlessness and its engineering. It’s so elaborate. In fact I try and transpose the beauty of a bird to women.”

- Alexander McQueen

McQueen often used the raw materials of nature. McQueen's collection, Widows of Culloden, was a reference to a battle between England and Scotland.

The Horn of Plenty
Autumn/Winter 2009-2010

It is important to look at death because it is a part of life. It is a sad thing, melancholy but romantic at the same time. It is the end of a cycle—everything has to end. The cycle of life is positive because it gives room for new things.”

- Alexander McQueen
This ensemble is made out of duck feathers dyed black. It gives off the impression of a raven. A raven which is also a symbol of death, is a melancholic symbol but also very romantic. McQueen's collection, The Horn of Plenty was a collection that was very much inspired by the 1950s haute couture. McQueen loved a very hard shoulder and a very small waist. In McQueen’s work feathers are often used due to his great love of birds. 

 The Overlook
 Autumn/Winter 1999-2000

“I especially like the accessory for its sadomasochistic aspect.”

-Alexander McQueen

This coiled corset is inspired by the coiled necklaces of the Ndebele people of southern Africa. McQueen requested jeweler Shaun Leane to create a necklace that transforms into a corset.

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