Lee Alexander McQueen

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Lee Alexander McQueen was described as ”the kind of genius that only comes around once in a generation.” (Knox, K. 2010. pg. 7). Illustrated as one of the most famous British fashion designers and couturiers of the 20th century, his work was well know for its conceptual dark and haunting approach to fashion. Adopting a radical approach to his designs and catwalk shows McQueen drastically addressed several issues in a serious and sensitive way, yet at the same time creating “visual spectacles of breath-taking theatrical quality and technical skill.” (Khan, N. 2001. pg. 118). He enjoyed a high pubic profile, frequently using his emotional catwalk shows as a medium to deliver performances that shocked and challenged the public.

McQueens Autumn/ Winter 1995 catwalk which displayed his ‘Highland Rape’ collection (see fig. 5) has been described as one of the most notorious thought provoking staged shows. ” Press response at the time was hostile to his use of violent and sexual imagery…He has since explained his catwalk show as “a statement on the eighteen-century involvement of the British in the Scottish Highlands.” (Khan, N. 2001.pg 118). The catwalk was Inspired by the “ethnic cleansing” of the British Forces in the Scottish Highlands, consisting of a complex series of events that continued over a hundred years. Traditional tartan print suits were sent down the runway with massive gashes down the breast and the ‘buster skirt ‘ was introduced. He wanted to make his audience react to his shows whether it be with happiness, joy, amazement or disgust, widely differing from the traditional catwalk involving a basic body of a young pretty, thin woman walking up and down a runway.

By using research methodologies to collect data on designers, one can discover their creative process, place in the fashion system and critical thinking. Research methodologies can include collecting both qualitative and quantitative data. Qualitative methods include interviews, case studies, ethnography and psychogeography, whereas quantitative methods can include laboratory experiments, tests, prototyping and sampling.

McQueens savage beauty exhibition at the V&A is an example of how avant-garde fashion designers manipulate space in order to create a show rather than focusing on the garments being presented. ” For avant-garde fashion designers, the museum or gallery appears to be a necessary component of their fashion brands strategy; the world of the brand is complete and show to best advantage when it appears in a museum or gallery in all its manifestations.” (Tenissen, J. 2014. Pg. unknown.)

Factors such as conceptualisation of fashion as a system, storytelling and experimental design all contribute to setting a scene for understanding avant-garde fashion though the museum. Similarly, to the world of art, contemporary museums are the ideal environment to understand avant-garde fashion though how it is presented in contrast to more traditional museums such as the V&A where it is simply just the garment displayed. There is a strong relationship between the space and the garments that represent the themes and ideologies behind the collections, therefore making it easy for the audience to understand the concept.

References

  • Knox, K (2010). Alexander McQueen Genius of a generation. Great Britain: A&C Black Publishers Limited.
  • Nathalie, K (2001). Fashion Cultures: Theories, Explorations and Analysis, Taylor and Francis, Florence. Great Britain: Routledge.
  • Tenissen, J (2014). Fashion and Museums (Dress, Body, Culture. Great Britain: Bloomsbury academic.

Bibliography:

  • Claire, W. (2015). Alexander McQueen. London: V&A publishing.
  • Knox, K (2010). Alexander McQueen Genius of a generation. Great Britain: A&C Black Publishers Limited.
  • Nathalie, K (2001). Fashion Cultures: Theories, Explorations and Analysis, Taylor and Francis, Florence. Great Britain: Routledge.
  • Tenissen, J (2014). Fashion and Museums (Dress, Body, Culture. Great Britain: Bloomsbury academic.

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