In Romantic Primitivism, the surface treatment is rusty metal and it’s meant to evoke a sunken ship. The featured collection is a collection called Irere, which told a story of a ship wrecked sea and the subsequent land of the Amazon. Featured very heavily in this particular gallery are contrasting opposites such as predator-prey or primitive and civilized.
In Romantic Exoticism, we wanted very much to give the idea of a music box, so we used mirrors to give an idea of infinity and also redundant turntables. McQueen often looked for inspiration not only in the distant past but also in other cultures, particularly China or in Japan. McQueen loved embroidery and Japan and China were two cultures that excelled, as in India, another great influence in McQueen’s career.
Voss is a collection that featured exoticize garments very heavily, you see two examples here in the patchwork that gives the impression of chrysanthemums of flowers associated with the east, particularly Japan. Voss was a collection staged with a box within a box, with a two-way mirror. The finale of the collection was a small box within the larger box of the wall crashing down revealing a naked lady with moths fluttering around inspired by a photograph by Joel Peter Witkin, entitled ‘Sanitarium’.
In Romantic Nationalism, the surface treatment is marquetry that is designed to reflect McQueen’s tartan. McQueen was an incredible storyteller and most of his collections are narrative-based. In this particular case great pride in his Scottish heritage and also his great love of British history. So, in a way there’s a face off between the Scots and the Brits.
The surface treatment in Romantic Gothic is primarily aged mirrors, a material that evoke the idea of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher; McQueen, often called himself the Edgar Allan Poe of fashion. One of the most prevalent and on-going themes in McQueen’s work was the Gothic, particuarly the darker side of the 19th century, Victorianism. Many of the pieces are inspired by the cult of death and any sorts of people with characters associated with the literary concept of the Gothic, like vampires, highwaymen, anti-heroes or byronic heroes.
We have a casket featuring McQueen’s posthumous collection, unofficially called Angels and Demons, and it shows McQueen’s engagement with art history as well as his love of Danish painters, that was his favorite moment in art history.
- Andrew Bolton
Alexander McQueen f/w 2010