Explore the eternal fascination around designer Alexander McQueen


Robert Fairer is a fashion photographer known for capturing behind-the-scenes drama at John Galliano’s shows for Christian Dior, and at Marc Jacobs, which he has collected in technicolor tomes, Invisible john galliano and Marc Jacobs invisible. A recent addition to the series, is Alexander McQueen invisible, with unpublished photos. John Matheson is the founder of the @McQueen_Vault Instagram account, which he describes as “An Alexander McQueen Exploration and Social Collage” which features runway footage, photos of clothes and shoes, old interview footage. , show invitations and editorial from the late creator 20+ years of creative production.

In a conversation moderated by Museum at FIT, to introduce Fairer’s book, these two McQueen experts describe why the designer is more ripe for exploration than ever. His call seems to have no end.

“We can all agree that Alexander McQueen was a genius,” begins Fairer, who describes the designer’s fashion shows as “both fierce and tender.” For him, it was a form of storytelling, both provocative and captivating, filled with storytelling, symbolism, powerful imagery, hidden meanings. “The shows were captivating, shocking, eye-catching and spectacular,” he says, but his impression changed when he went backstage and the designer’s passion for craftsmanship was all on display. He noted the designer’s lack of idle chatter, his singular vision and total focus, how he painstakingly sewed a model into his look 15 minutes before he hit the catwalk.

Claire Wilcox, co-curator of the record-breaking Savage Beauty exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum, whom Fairer describes as having encyclopedic knowledge of McQueen, wrote the text to accompany her photos. It’s hard to think of another designer who inspires such scholarly devotion as that shown by Matheson and Fairer and the community they inspire.

Geek avowed for the detail of McQueen’s creativity, Matheson describes the contents of the archives he publishes as “moments trapped in amber” for his 165,000 subscribers. He particularly appreciates the collections credits on the back of Fairer’s book which act as a timeline while detailing the universe of people involved in the creator’s artistic process. “It’s McQueen at the center of a very elaborate spider web.” The dark side of McQueen’s creativity is often discussed, but Fairer also has snapshots of emotional moments, like the creator in the bunny costume, laughing backstage with models and his crew.

We’ve lost many beloved designers lately, Karl Lagerfeld, Azzedine Alaia, Oscar de la Renta, Alber Elbaz to name a few, but the legend of McQueen, who died 11 years ago, throws a long shadow. No other designer has incorporated charred volcanic rock, fire and rain into their fashion shows. Fairer describes the fall 1999 finale, which made viewers cry as they watched a robot spray mannequin Shalom Harlow spinning on a turntable, as “performance art at its finest.”

Alexander McQueen’s Inspirational World

Matheson remembers seeing his first McQueen show, Dante, with its themes of war and religion: “He instantly struck a match.” His story is an attempt “to understand the myth, the techniques, the genius of the brain”. When Stunned Referenced the account after just 9 months, other media quickly followed and a community of McQueen nerds flourished. Matheson believes in the importance of recording moments in history that affect pop culture, for creatives, journalists and students, without sensationalizing the designer. “It goes beyond simple fashion.”

“You always heard her say that Mother Nature was the best designer,” Fairer says. Indeed, McQueen was a fan of National Geographic This is where Fairer wanted to work when he graduated from the London College of Printing, so he went to Africa for three months to photograph wildlife with a wide telephoto lens. Antelope horns, skins, scales, fins, tails, wings, amphibian prints, crystals, flowers, all adorned the work of the late creator. “It was kind of a jungle atmosphere,” Fairer says, and his photography was a way of “capturing fleeting creatures, rare sightings”.

In another breath, Fairer describes the behind-the-scenes scene as being on a sci-fi set, and the models as some kind of beautiful alien lined up in the cafeteria for lunch. The shoes seen on the floor were like intriguing objects. With such vivid memories flashing at the mere mention of certain shows all these years later, Matheson asks the question many of us want the answer to: “What would he do in these strange times?”

We can only wonder.

Fashion editor Jackie Mallon is also an educator and author of Silk for the Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion industry.


About Julius Southworth

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