White caged ankle boots with metal toe caps and needle heels, photographed in atelier before the Spring/Summer 2019 show in Paris. #McQueenSS19#AlexanderMcQueen
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A black wool silk jacket, slashed, pieced and laced with metal eyelets and kickback bumster trousers. Photographed during fittings in London. #McQueenSS19#AlexanderMcQueen
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#McQueenUnlockingStories Strong women are the backbone of Alexander McQueen. This season she appears in a hand-painted, corseted jacket and a spiral knit dress: modern clothes which have roots in the universe of Medieval heroines and legends.
Looking at Victorian and pre-Raphaelite prints and paintings, we went further, to examine real medieval armour and examples of protective chainmail undergarments.
For Spring/Summer 2005 two models representing Knight chess-pieces wore armour, imagined as a cross between US football kit and Samurai armour. The Japanese-inspired patterns of fish and waves were hand-painted at the studio.
The studio took a research trip to explore the countryside surrounding the Neolithic Avebury standing stones, Silbury hill, Avalon and West Kennet’s Long Barrow. These are ancient sites where battles, processions and rituals of female power can easily be imagined. The trip coincided with an intense flowering of wild flowers which inspired the hand-painting on this jacket.
Designing the jacket took many trials. In the first toiles, to keep the tough, armoured sense of the jacket, reinforced parts of real motocross jackets were cut up, collaged and moulded into the breastplate and elbows.
The technique for the engineered, slashed, spiral knit black ribbed dress was chainmail inspired and took numerous toiles to achieve. The complex, dynamic diagonal godet panelling was eventually linked together with lines of silver metal hooks and eyes.
Each flower was painted by hand, involving a group of artists. The scheme for the pattern jumped into focus when an antique 16th century embroidery depicting birds, flora and fauna was sourced by the textiles team. #AlexanderMcQueen#27OldBondStreet
#McQueenUnLockingStories. Black lace cut and appliquéd on white lace; the birth of this dress with its off-the-shoulder leg ’o’ mutton sleeves in the Spring/Summer 2019 show is genetically related to a series of Alexander McQueen forerunners.
The collection narrative about women’s celebrations was focused on weddings, birth and the traditions surrounding the wearing of white dresses. At the centre of the research was the delicate construction of a beautiful Victorian lace christening gown.
The translucent leg ’o’ mutton sleeves in this dress — internally supported by a ‘crinoline’ cage — was devised for the Spring/Summer 2007 Sarabande collection.
This fitted, tiered Edwardiana wedding dress from Autumn/Winter 2006, made in a Carrickmacross inspired lace, came with a veiled headpiece supported by a pair of antlers.
The archive contains multiple examples of experimentation, manipulating lace. A sheer red lace dress was the denouement of the Joan of Arc Autumn/Winter 1998 collection, surrounded by flames. The fascination for drawing fresh meanings from historical material is integral to the Alexander McQueen creative culture.
After the archival inspiration pieces were consulted, the dress took on a life of its own in the fittings.
The steps in the process exemplify one of the essential Alexander McQueen ways of working: a collaboration of hand-made processes and digital technology, as two separate designs of flower-patterned Lyon lace were layered one over the other, with a cut-out filigree of black roses embroidered over white.
White Lyon lace was used as the base, with a floral pattern developed in the atelier. Black Lyon lace was designed to be hand-cut to construct the 3-D rose over-layer, which was then embellished with touches of jet. In order to unite the two layers, the embroidery team then created a ‘colour up’ digital ‘lace map’. The Alexander McQueen practice of making miniature 3-D paper maquettes helps visualise and adjust the scale and placement of the lace for the final design. Small-scale dolls are accurately reduced on the computer to exactly 30 percent of the original scale of the dress. #AlexanderMcQueen#27OldBondStreet.