Known for the dark beauty and controversy of his work, the late Alexander McQueen’s talents continue to be ingrained in our memories five years after his passing. It is not only his designs which caught the attention of the fashion industry, but his incredible catwalk shows and the way he used them as a platform for social, political, and philosophical commentary. Spanning 18 years, every one of his shows were shocking and unique. Here are just some of our favourite moments.
Untitled (SS 1998)
Fascinated by the elements, water was the overpowering force in McQueen’s SS 1998 collection. Tension and drama were present from the show’s start, with thunder and lightning flashes intimidating the audience. Rain poured from the ceiling and drenched the models, demonstrating McQueen’s experimental genius as the white fabrics were completely transformed and given a translucent and ethereal quality.
It’s Only a Game (SS 2005)
The brilliant thing about McQueen was his ingenuity: his fashion shows weren’t just fashion shows, they were a social commentary. His SS 2005 show featured a giant chess set in which models acted as chess pieces, wearing Japanese and American designs. Not satisfied with merely displaying his designs, McQueen played the two cultures against one another; as pawns in a global game.
Windows of Culloden (AW 2006)
McQueen’s 2006 collection saw the popular nature theme return to his work. Falcon wings, feathers and nests were combined with incredible tailoring and a mix of tartan, cashmere tweed and lace tulle. Yet, in true McQueen style, it was the finale that got everyone talking. The lights dimmed, and what began as a speck of light grew and evolved into a ghostly hologram of Kate Moss, showing McQueen’s mastery in the art of the catwalk.
No.13 (SS 1999)
McQueen’s thirteenth collection was his most ambitious. Models revolved like music-box dolls on wooden discs, dressed in liquid draped jersey and signature sharp tailoring. The audience were largely unaware when model/double amputee/Paralympic champion Aimee Mullins entered not wearing boots, but hand-carved prosthetic legs. The finale famously saw a model’s dress being sprayed acid yellow and black by a pair of robots. No.13 took the originality and raw energy of McQueen to a whole new level – his favourite collection, McQueen later admitted that it was the only show to have made him cry.
Janet Fischgrund, close colleague of the late McQueen perfectly sums up his artistry: “really, he was way over somewhere else, where no one else was. The platform the shows gave him as an artist was enormous. Almost everything else became irrelevant… the message was all-important… The ideas were what were important to him. The clothes were a canvas in a way”.