To mark what would have been Alexander McQueen's birthday this Wednesday 17 March, we decided to celebrate the late designer by asking John Matheson of @McQueen_Vault to select his favourite moments from the numerous projects McQueen worked on with our founder Nick Knight, drawing on the years Matheson has spent researching and archiving the designer and his work.
As an avid follower of Alexander McQueen, Matheson brought his passion as an archivist and loyal fashion fan together to launch the account @McQueen_Vault, which now boasts over 153k followers. Unlike other fashion archive accounts, @McQueen_Vault is more than mere aesthetic nostalgia. Pulling from Alexander McQueen's now legendary runway shows, such as Plato's Atlantis, as well as editorial spreads and fashion films, Matheson provides in-depth garment analysis and his sharp eye can even spot a McQueen in an Absolutely Fabulous sketch.
On Tuesday 16 - Wednesday 17 March, Matheson will be sharing his picks over on the SHOWstudio Instagram. Providing not only his unique insight into the stories behind the clothes, he will also be commenting on the profound and lasting effect that McQueen's work has had across the generations, reaching far beyond the realms of fashion.
For Lee, forever in our thoughts.
Hetty Mahlich: What first drew you to Alexander McQueen's work?
John Matheson: When I discovered him in my 20s, he was exploring all the themes I wanted to be inspired by and wasn’t prepared to see. It made me think. There was a sense of never knowing what would come next and excitement to what themes he would explore. It was a magnetism to his balance of vision in how he portrayed collections and a perfectly crafted execution.
HM: Why did you start the McQueen_Vault Instagram account, and how has your experience of the fashion archive community evolved since then?
JM: I started the account because I felt like for someone that gave me so much, the least I could do is create a meaningful tribute to him and his legacy, not to mention the creators he worked with. Also, the joy of exploration. Still finding rare bits of information that paint an even more impressive picture of McQueen. I am staggered by the kindness of people with their stories and willingness to share.
As for the fashion archive community: at its core it is a womb of the truest fans and die-hards, but I can see where the visibility has started to take its toll. Some are finding they have done life-long curation out of passionate devotion, and it is often being referenced or used without any recognition to their work and dedication. The system is a ravenous beast to feed. I suppose it will continue to evolve as does every pocket of culture like this. It’s so wonderful that the people at Jean Paul Gaultier have begun to recognise this, to work with the community, and celebrate it.
HM: Tell us about the theme for the takeover and why you chose this approach.
JM: Trying to choose the 'Best' of McQueen and Nick Knight and SHOWstudio is almost paradoxical because there is no opposite of best. Everything they created was pure gold. It was harder to choose what NOT to post. Something that always stands out to me is how much of what they created together was an extension of House McQueen itself, from rose prints during McQueen’s time at Givenchy haute couture to game-changing McQueen show invitation visuals. It is so clear that there was a synergy between Lee McQueen and Nick Knight.