This collection of specially commissioned illustrations pays homage to a selection of Alexander McQueen's most pivotal designs. SHOWstudio has established a community of fashion illustrators and artists that work in a variety of mediums to re-interpret garments in new and imaginative guises. For the occasion of the Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A and the Nick Knight & Alexander McQueen exhibition at SHOWstudio, each of these artists have created an artwork that operates as an ode to an important McQueen design. These illustrations are available to purchase from SHOWstudio Shop.
Helen Bullock created a diptych that presents the front and back of McQueen's iconic 'bumster' trousers. Playing with the elongated silhouette imposed by the design, her subject's high collar and long legs exaggerate McQueen's true vision for the trousers, which was to give length and grace, with the focus placed on the small of the back. She also captures an early moment of theatre from the A/W 98 Joan show. She captures the final moments of the show where the model cavorts in a glowing blood red beaded dress within a circle of fire that evoked the gruesome execution of McQueen's historical muse for the season, Joan of Arc.
Jowy Maasdamme interpreted McQueen's brown pony skin jacket with impala horns in the shoulders from the It's a Jungle Out There A/W 97 collection. The translucent pink and peach skin tones and the horns protruding from her model's head create a palpable feeling of fashion fusing with flesh.
Looks from Untitled No 13, McQueen's S/S 99 collection, were drawn by Piet Paris, Jenifer Corker and Rei Nadal. Paris embeds pops of fluorescent colour into the rigid sculptural shapes from the show. Corker presents a delicate rendering of the surreal translucent cage dress in equally sheer fabric. Her subject appears as fashion's vitruvian figure with proportions traced out by the seams of her gown. Finally, Nadal tackles one of McQueen's most memorable moments when, during the finale of the show, Shalom Harlow approached two car manufacturing robots that proceeded to spray her dress with black and yellow paint.
Voss too, from S/S 01, was one of McQueen's most compelling shows. Stephen Doherty used pastel to draw the dress worn by Erin O'Connor that was created entirely from clam shells and reportedly was broken to pieces during the show. Velwyn Yossy created a metallic mixed media painting that captures the gun grey underdress of oyster shells and the skin piercing neckpiece of silver and Tahitian pearls by Shaun Leane that were worn with a nineteenth-century Japanese silk screen overdress. A red and black full skirted ostrich feather dress was also selected from this collection. The beading that covers the bodice of the piece is in fact painted medical slides. Roset's spontaneous washes seamlessly combine the synthetic and natural materials that create the dress. Finally from this season, Kukula applied her Baroque style to render an Erte inspired depiction of McQueen's dramatic feather skirt with the head piece with swooping birds of prey.
For It's Only a Game, S/S 05, McQueen's runway took the guise of a chess board with the models playing as pieces. Gemma Ward, as the queen, wore a short thigh high dress with kimono collar, obi sash and an undershirt embroidered with Japanese motifs. Francois Berthoud has re-imagined this garment in all of its intricacies focusing on the delicate stitching and radical silhouette of the dress. Laura Laine similarly depicts a model armoured in a rigid leather dress with horse hair fringing. Laine's subject embodies the tenacity and ferociousness that McQueen hoped would translate to the wearers of his designs.
One Eye Girl appears in McQueen's A/W 06 collection, The Widows of Culloden, in a cream silk tulle and lace gown with resin antler headpiece and Gary Card depicts the haunting pepper's ghost of Kate Moss that marked the end of the show.
The abundant romanticism of the S/S 07 collection Sarabande is present in Fiona Gourlay, Valerie Servais and Tobie Giddio's works and Conrad Roset captures the brevity of the fresh flowers that were used to decorate one of the key looks in the collection.
Josie Hall and Unskilled Worker's artworks portray the narrative implicit in The Girl who Lived in a Tree A/W 08 collection. Hall depicted the solemn black attire of the deprived girl in the first part of the show, while Unskilled Worker shows the explosion of colour, opulent materials and fine jewellery that she embraces once she finds her prince.
The Horn of Plenty A/W 09 collection was another of McQueen's most pivotal. Featuring dramatic parodies of landmark fashion pieces that satirised Dior's 'New Look' to Chanel's harlequin suits, the collection was staged amongst a set laden with debris from previous shows piled high in black bin bags and littered with strewn broken glass. Yossy's undulating mixed media drawing captures McQueen's expertly executed harlequinade ruffle jacket, Corker's stitched rendering of the slim fitting wrap over dress with scarlet lining is set amongst a landscape of fractured glass and Unskilled Worker presents a hybrid figure of half raven and half human. Her subject is fully immersed in the McQueen psyche and crafted in layer upon layer of paint.
John Booth tackled McQueen's final collection Plato's Atlantis in a celebratory and brightly coloured collage. The design again predicts a body morphic ideal where man and nature live in a mutually beneficial harmony.
Collectively these works pay tribute to the various facets of McQueen's prolific craft driven and conceptual oeuvre and give a new account of his creations through the eyes of a range of artists. The selected looks were drawn mostly from the items chosen by McQueen creative director Sarah Burton to appear in Nick Knight's 2010 tribute film, To Lee, With Love, Nick; items she felt showed off his extraordinary talent best.
These original artworks will soon be available to purchase online at SHOWstudio Shop and the project sits alongside SHOWstudio's wider Unseen McQueen project that showcases previously unreleased photo-shoot footage and interviews from Nick Knight's archive.
Shop the illustrations on SHOWstudio / MACHINE-A.