Holographic video featuring Kate Moss which was projected during Alexander McQueen’s 2006 fall/winter collection, titled Widows of Culloden, during Paris Fashion Week. It was a tribute to all the women who lost their husbands in the battle and its aftermath.
Phoebe Hoare, who’s put some really good things our way, suggests it’s time we did something on Alexander McQueen, the fashion designer. She’s quite right. It’s not as if his work does not dwell and brood on death, dying, mortality and moral blackness.
Before becoming a student at Central St Martin’s, McQueen cut his teeth as a Savile Row tailor. There, he made suits for the nobility and gentry. He made a suit of clothes for the Prince of Wales and, on the back of the lining of one of the sleeves, wrote in biro: ‘I am a c**t’.
He was fearless about flabbergasting people. He wanted people to leave his shows vomiting with shock and gagging for his clothes — and they did. His graduate show at Central St Martin’s was titled Jack the Ripper Stalks his Victims and featured a frock coat with human hair between the fabric and the lining. Throughout his life he carried on giving his adoring public more of the same — Gothic horror and much else.
Zoe Blackler, writer and journalist, says of him: “In McQueen’s world, an exuberant dress of cut flowers becomes a commentary on death and decay. A sculpted dress of black-dyed duck feathers recalls a raven, another deathly image, while accessories evoke the sadomasochistic. And yet, even at their darkest, his creations are never less than beautiful. ‘I find beauty in the grotesque,’ he said. ‘I have to force people to look at things.’” [Source]
Of a jacket embroidered with an image of the crucified Christ, he said: “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.”
And so he was. He killed himself in 2010, nine days after the death of his mother.
Was he a genius? Not in the opinion of Toby Young: “Not a “genius”, unless by that you mean a gift for self-presentation.” But many would disagree. Compare him with YBAs (Young British Artists) like Damian Hirst and that tent woman. He was streets ahead.
Or was he? You decide for yourself.
Frock coat from Jack the Ripper Stalks his Victims. The panel on the right shows the hair.
Note the vulture skulls on the shoulders
He could do pretty, too
From the Dante show
There’s a good series of photos from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2011 show Savage Beauty here.
There’s a good survey of his oeuvre here.