McQueen For A Day

I love Alexander McQueen, I will never be able to afford anything from their shop but I love the label. When McQueen was alive I loved it more, I loved his sense of theatre, of traditional tailoring skills, of embellishment and embroidery.

I was devastated when the retrospective of his work was shown at The Met in New York, convinced I would never see his work in person. However, I signed the petition, waited 7 months and here I am in the presence of the great man himself.

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Photography was forbidden within the collection and though many others were snapping away it felt inappropriate, so from now on its second-hand photos from my books and postcards.

Lee McQueen was a Savile Row tailors apprentice when he left school and his ability to cut and tailor shines through the collection but especially the early pieces……

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This piece highlights his tailoring abilities with his twist of deconstruction, as I walked round I was reminded of this quote…

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Lee himself said “You’ve got to know the rules to break them. Thats what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but keep the tradition”.

From the tailored pieces we were taken to a gothic, romantic room with faded, gilded mirrors, many of the pieces were very Victorian , jet beading and heavy black lace so the models looked like that were in mourning. It was also where one of his most iconic pieces was given pride of place………

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Lee was very interested in ornithology and feathers played a large part in his collections, he said this about this collection “It is important to look at death because it is a part of life. It is a sad thing, melancholic but romantic at the same time”.

The next room featured his controversially named “Highland Rape” collection, heavily referencing tartan and ruffled lace…..

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Next to a room lined with bones, for dresses inspired by the Thompsons gazelle and its habitat, this room contained some surprisingly wearable pieces, this was my favourite……

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Its skirt is more purple in reality and the contrast with the lime top is utterly gorgeous.

The next room was an absolute assault on the senses, the walls were lined with bookcases and each square was filled with shoes, hats, bodices and whole looks reclined along a shelf. Centre stage was this dress…

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The dress had been sprayed by two robotic arms, live on the catwalk.

The next room was in complete darkness to show this dress in the form of a hologram…

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I am afraid that I can’t adequately explain how beautiful this was, to see Kate Moss captured in a glass pyramid slowly gyrating so that all the ruffles of this exquisite dress took flight. She was part ghost, part fairy, a man behind me said she looked like Tinkerbell!

Next to a room with a lot of cultural references, Lee said this ” Fashion can be really racist, looking at the clothes of other cultures as costumes”, this is my favourite piece…..

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The colours were very vibrant in reality, and the heavy embroidery was breathtaking.

The next part was not a room at all but a glass box with several dresses and a screen inside which showed the original catwalk. the box was dimmed and then lights flashed on so that we could see the contents…..

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and just as suddenly the walls of the box turned to mirrors, Lee’s intention was this “the idea was to turn people’s faces on themselves. I wanted to turn it around and make them think, am I actually as good as what I am looking at?”

Then to some pieces inspired by nature, this next piece was originally made with fresh flowers because ” Things rot…..I used flowers because they die. my mood was darkly romantic st the time”.

 

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Even in silk flowers it was beyond beautiful.

On to the collection called Plato’s Atlantis and I have my illustration of my favourite piece…

 

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My drawing cannot capture the iridescent gold/purple of the embellishments on this piece. The proportion of the shoes has to be seen to be believed and are way more graceful than they look.

Then…..it was over, we were left filing out into the shop which normally fills me glee. How did I feel? I felt a sense of loss, not that I knew him, but a sense that we would never see that combination of expert tailoring and genius imagination ever again, and that thought made my heart crack a little.

I took a creative writing course before starting this blog and love this quote by Dani Shapiro “fill your ears with the music of good sentences and when you approach the page yourself, that music will carry you” and now as my work is almost completely visual based, I feel the need to “fill my eyes with the music of good design“, and even though they were slightly tear filled, they were definitely full of music.

So my lovelies, who fills your eyes and ears?

 

Kisses

 

Karen

 

 

 

 

 

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