Roses is the new exhibition at the Alexander McQueen flagship store on Old Bond Street which traces the influence of the flower across 20-years of McQueen history. Co-curated by McQueen's creative director Sarah Burton and fashion critic Sarah Mower, Roses pulls the lid back on the design processes and rich history at Alexander McQueen.
The floral emblem has been central to the British brand since its conception, with Lee McQueen's - now iconic - live flower Sarabande S/S 07 dress and Burton's Red Rose A/W 19 finale dress framing the exhibition. The former dress is accompanied by a copy of the original Sarabande show invitation, photographed by Nick Knight, exclusively in poster format for the exhibition - a must-have collectable!
Nature is interlaced into the design processes of both Lee McQueen and Sarah Burton and visitors are reminded of the back and forth between present and past and nature and craft which have blossomed into so many varieties over time. Viewers are taken on a history trail of technique, spotting McQueen signatures as they move through the studio-like space, each piece tagged with a note explaining its intricate composition as a guide. Our favourite? The bodice and sculptural carnation-shaped skirt of the Red Rose A/W 19 dress echoed in a rose-petal satin jacket from the A/W 08 The Girl Who Lived In The Tree collection.
The exhibition exposes the couture-like levels of craft the house has showcased over the years, as garments sit against a backdrop of sketches, toiles, fabric swatches and mood boards. Archive pieces have been lovingly restored - including the Sarabande dress which was originally made from hundreds of live roses, hydrangeas and silk organza. One rose from the original 2007 version can be miraculously found clinging to the ninth re-incarnation for the exhibition. One such incarnation was for Knight's tribute fashion film, To Lee With Love.
Continuing Lee McQueen's educational legacy (McQueen often encouraged interns to be hands-on and founded the Sarabande Foundation) Roses provides a garden of knowledge for visitors. Burton, who is due to receive this year's Trailblazer Award at the Fashion Awards, previewed the exhibition to students alongside McQueen's head of atelier Judy Halil. The space not only hosts practical masterclasses and interactive discussions with students but also features a step-by-step demonstration video on how to create the Red Rose dress by Halil herself.
With community at its heart, Roses uses the flower to dissect an important segment of Alexander McQueen's history, allowing insight into the rich narrative and craft behind one of Britain's seminal luxury brands.
Roses can be found on the second floor of the Alexander McQueen flagship at 27 Old Bond Street, London, W1S 4QE.
The exhibition opens 30 November 2019 and runs until May 2020.