10 INCREDIBLE ALEXANDER MCQUEEN ARCHIVE LOOKS YOU CAN SHOP, PRE-LOVED
Own a piece of history from one of the late designer’s most legendary collections
This article was originally published on harpersbazaar.com
It may be 30 years since Alexander McQueen presented his first ever collection and nearly 13 years since his tragic death, but when one looks at some of the late designer’s most iconic shows, it’s as though no time has passed at all. McQueen’s virtuoso tailoring and theatrical designs feel as relevant now as they did when he first presented them. Re-inspired, we’ve taken a deep dive into the corners of the internet to bring you 10 sensational pre-loved pieces from the McQueen archives – and the stories behind the fascinating shows and collections of which they’re part.
Trashbag blouse and metallic skirt from ‘Horn of Plenty’, Autumn/Winter 2009, £1,715.39, 1stdibs.com / £1,371.24, etsy.com
McQueen used his 2009 show, entitled ‘Horn of Plenty’, to highlight the issue of fast fashion while poking fun at the fabled world of French couture. Models encircled a huge pile of rubbish (made up of pieces from McQueen’s previous collections) wearing tin-can-and-clingfilm headpieces and garments that looked like they’d been magicked out of bin bags, such as this sheeny silk blouse. We’ve also tracked down the metallic, high-waist skirt it was styled with, so you can recreate look 18 from the show.
Patchwork skirt suit from ‘Deliverance’, Spring/Summer 2004, £4,719.68, 1stdibs.com
This suit is one of the stand-out looks from 2004’s ‘Deliverance’ show, in which McQueen recreated dance marathon scenes from Sydney Pollack’s ‘30s-styled, 1969 film They Shoot Horses Don’t They. Here, recycled men’s shirting is artfully patchworked – a ‘make-do-and-mend’ method common during the Great Depression, when the film is set.
Silk dress from ‘Plato’s Atlantis’, Spring/Summer 2010, £9,627.81, vestiairecollective.com
Turn to pages 188 and 189 of the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty book and you’ll find this dress. It’s special because it is part of McQueen’s last fully-realised collection, ‘Plato’s Atlantis’, for Spring/Summer 2010. As the name suggests, the collection was inspired by the legendary sunken city of Atlantis, but it also served as an apocalyptic forecast of an underwater future, as the ice cap dissolves. As such, this dress is digitally printed with the scales of marine creatures.
Bumster trouser suit from ‘The Hunger’, Spring/Summer 1996, £11,150.46, 1stdibs.com
One of McQueen’s most daring inventions was the ‘Bumster’ silhouette – a waistline cut so low it revealed the cleavage of one’s derrière. This suit hails from the designer’s Spring/Summer 1996 collection, ‘The Hunger’, which takes its title from the 1993 erotic horror film of the same name, starring Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie. ‘That part of the body – not so much the buttocks, but the bottom of the spine – that’s the most erotic part of anyone’s body, man or woman,’ McQueen told The Guardian in 1993.
Gold dress from the unfinished collection, 2010, £8,000, vestiairecollective.com
This rare couture piece is part of Alexander McQueen’s final collection, which, though unfinished at the time of his death, was shown a month later as part of a memorial show. The collection was inspired by Byzantine art, of which this dress, decorated with digitally printed images of angels and wings, is a poignant reminder.
Silk dress from ‘Pantheon ad Lucem’, Autumn/Winter 2004, £3,215.63, vestiairecollective.com
2004’s ‘Pantheon ad Lucem’ (‘Towards the Light’) collection was McQueen’s closest brush with minimalism, from the pared-back presentation to the sober colour palette, comprising of nudes and purples. The distinct lack of embellishments served to better showcase McQueen’s impeccable construction. This crepe-jersey dress from look 12, with its ‘30s-inspired bias cut and hand-sewn silk ties, is an elegant example.
Jacquard jacket from ‘Joan’, Autumn/Winter 1998, £1,653.75, vestiairecollective.com
Power suiting doesn’t come more powerful than this sharply architected jacket. It featured in the designer’s Autumn/Winter 1998 show, which was entitled ‘Joan’ and, in true McQueen style, called upon seemingly disparate (yet, in practice, wonderfully cohesive) references that included Joan of Arc and the Romanovs. The overarching themes? Strength, martyrdom and tragedy. Wear this jacket as it was styled on the catwalk, with a bejewelled collar – red contact lenses optional.
Embroidered skirt from ‘Untitled’, Spring/Summer 1998, £344.53, vestiairecollective.com
Although McQueen was pressured by sponsors to change the name of his Spring/Summer 1998 show from ‘Golden Shower’ to the more family-friendly ‘Untitled’, that didn’t stop the enfant terrible from bathing his models in golden light and actual showers. The final 29 looks – which included this floral-embroidered skirt – were completely white, becoming increasingly see-through as the simulated rain poured down.
Wool skirt suit from ‘The Overlook’, Autumn/Winter 1999, £2,725.74, 1stdibs.com
If one had to choose an outfit to brave a haunted hotel in the depths of winter, this dramatic wool skirt suit would be an apt choice. After all, it’s from ‘The Overlook’ A/W ‘99 show, named after the hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film, The Shining. McQueen created an appropriately eerie, snowglobe-like stage upon which to present bubble-hemmed skater skirts, sweeping tailored coats and architectural suits like this one.