Alexander McQueen

Alexander McQueen spent five years as an apprentice on Savile Row, learning the art of tailoring. Firstly, at Anderson & Sheppard, where he learnt to cut jackets, then later at Gieves & Hawkes where he was trained in the cut of trousers. His knowledge of the cut and construction of traditional menswear, and his ability to subvert this became central to the McQueen silhouette and aesthetic.

As early as his 1996 collection The Hunger, McQueen’s runway shows featured menswear alongside his womenswear. However, it has until now been almost invisible; no examples were presented in the V&A’s Savage Beauty exhibition, which meant the connection between his menswear training in tailoring and its application and subversion into his cut and vision for womenswear remained unexplored.

Alexander McQueen - tyre print trousers

TYRE PRINT TROUSERS

Alexander McQueen

1997

Before McQueen’s Spring Summer 1995 show The Birds, several models had car tyres rolled over them leaving an inky black print across their bodies. This print motif was reprised for the Spring Summer 1997 Bellmer La Poupée collection where several menswear garments were presented as if they had been run over.

 

Cotton

Archive no. 2017.243

Alexander McQueen, Spray painted frock coat

SPRAY PAINTED FROCK COAT

Alexander McQueen

1997

 

McQueen’s signature interpretation of the frock coat was a reoccurring theme of his womenswear with its elongated cutaway silhouette that swings the skirt of the coat backwards. It is reinterpreted here as a man’s nylon coat from the Spring Summer 1997 Bellmer La Poupée collection. The spray-painted effect print on the outside bleeds through onto the inside.

 

Nylon

Archive no. 2019.118

Alexander McQueen - Glen check jacket, 1998

GLEN CHECK JACKET

Alexander McQueen

1998

 

McQueen’s reoccurring obsession with slashing and dissecting garments continued with his Golden Shower, or Untitled collection. It featured traditional tailoring that was dissected, spliced, and then stitched back together with contrasting panels of chalk stripe, plaid, or houndstooth cloth.

 

Wool, polyester

Archive no. 2017.016

Alexander McQueen - Slash back coat. 1998

SLASH BACK COAT

Alexander McQueen

1998

 

A reoccurring theme of McQueen’s work was the body in trauma, represented by garments being slashed, defiled, or revealed. This traditional tailored long coat has, through the manipulation of fabric and complex pattern cutting, created an elegant slash revealing the body beneath.

 

Nylon, spandex

Archive no. 2017.353.1   

Alexander McQueen - Antique overlayer vest. 1998

ANTIQUE OVERLAYER VEST

Alexander McQueen

1998

 

The simplicity of this garment echoes ecclesiastical garments and religious iconography and is a sample piece from McQueen’s Autumn Winter 1998 collection Joan. Based on the life of Joan of Arc, who was put on trial for heresy in 1431 but eventually found guilty for dressing like a man, and subsequently burnt at the stake aged only 19.

 

Rayon, nylon

Archive no. 2016.156

Alexander McQueen - Tailored Jacket, 1998.

TAILORED JACKET

Alexander McQueen

1998

 

Taking inspiration from Joan of Arc and ideas of martyrdom, Joan was at the time McQueen’s most pared back and unadorned collection. The severity and minimal nature of this jacket, which is part of a three-piece suit is reminiscent of ecclesiastical garments and features an elongated waistcoat that creates a skirted effect.

 

Wool, polyester

Archive no. 2017.117.1       

Alexander McQueen - Cable knit overcoat,

CABLE KNIT OVERCOAT

Alexander McQueen

1999

 

For his Autumn Winter 1999 collection The Overlook - based on Kubrick’s film The Shining - McQueen experimented with using cable knitting to construct outerwear rather than traditional knitwear. This tailored overcoat is made from a thick black wool knit in a cable design, constructed into McQueen's signature men's topcoat.

 

Wool, cotton, rayon

Archive no. 2016.294

SPRAY PAINTED JACKET

Alexander McQueen

1999

 

The severity of the cut and line of this tailored jacket is subverted using a gradient print effect evocative of snow settling on a crumpled surface. It is from McQueen’s Autumn Winter 1999 collection The Overlook which was presented inside a giant glass cube with snow falling on the models.

 

Wool

Archive no. 2016.219

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Westminster Menswear Archive
University of Westminster

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