The Corset Effect: Alexander McQueen Brings Back the Corset For S/S 21

by Christina Donoghue on 5 March 2021

The house of Alexander McQueen has long been known for their innovative designs, shaping the body through corsets since the 90s. This season, the house looks to a softer, more romantic side for their S/S 21 collection.

The house of Alexander McQueen has long been known for their innovative designs, shaping the body through corsets since the 90s. This season, the house looks to a softer, more romantic side for their S/S 21 collection.

The corset has long been known to be an item of immense restriction, with the bodice famously breaking women's ribs when worn regularly up until the 20th century. The arrival of one of the first couturiers Paul Poiret, saw all that change, choosing to abolish the design and replace it with his bohemian loose-fitting embellished kaftans and harem pants, strongly associated with the art deco era.

The Alexander McQueen team have decided to bring back the corset for their S/S 21 collection. If you ask us, we're certainly ready to see a bit of romance and glamour injected into our wardrobes after a year of, well, no romance (at least for some) and certainly no glamour. Scanning a handful of original corset designs from the Alexander McQueen archive, to observe the exquisite detail, Burton and her team then moved to first, printing onto paper, refining the scale, following up with printing onto jersey bodices and polyfaille skirts.

To make a general assumption - many of us have been dressed in less than flattering leisurewear over the past year. At best, we will make the odd effort to conceal our slobbiness with a half-formal blazer on top to portray that effortless working from home look, but truth be told, it's never been more than an effort to get dressed. When we've had a year without the stress of wanting to look our absolute best, restrictive corsets that define your beauty and, more importantly, make you feel beautiful, couldn't be more welcomed. It's factors like this that make the Alexander McQueen S/S 21 collection more timely than ever, responding to the needs of women anywhere and everywhere.

The team at Alexander McQueen has gone from strength to strength during the national lockdown, from bringing their pre - S/S 21 collection to life, all from the teams' kitchen tables to working on a modern version (although with traditionalist references) of the ever-so-popular and the ever-so-McQueen corset. A recognisable house classic, the corset has been reinterpreted many times by the house of Alexander McQueen, thanks to the designer himself often using it as a form of protection, present in many of his collections throughout his stand-out shows of the 90s.

With the help of McQueen's dear friend and spectacular Jeweller Shaun Leane, the pair were fearless to push boundaries, using the 90s decade to create a voice for their generation. Their creations, worn by the assertive and magisterial, were seen - and intended to be - a form of armour for the modern woman. Although the original Spine corset that turned a young Leane from a goldsmith to a sculptor, designed by the creative duo for McQueen's Spring/Summer Untitled 1998 show is far from the soft and romantic ideals embodied in the house's S/S 21 corsets, the principles remain the same; to protect the wearer and to envelop beauty in all its unique forms.

Below, SHOWstudio uncovers the process behind the Alexander McQueen's craftsmanship for their S/S 21 womenswear collection.

Starting off the process, Signature Alexander McQueen tulle boned corsets were uncovered from the house's archive are digitally scanned. The scans were then edited, helping the team explore different colour variations.

Playing with experimentation, rough paper prototypes exposing the corset details used in the collection were printed onto a scaled-up bodice.

More corset scans

Not only were the corsets digitally scanned but the house's Signature fairytale-like layered tulle skirts were scanned too. Afterwards, they were manipulated to create a photographic print, which was subsequently used as surface detailing on a polyfaille skirt.

The final looks saw the corsets remodeled through a variety of looks. Using many different techniques, Burton and the Alexander McQueen team managed to incorporate the boning into knitwear pieces, they also manipulated digital scans onto full-bodied tulle skirts while employing a contrast-stitching on a supper leather dress.


Image Gallery

Lookbook: Alexander Mcqueen S/S 21 Womenswear

16 December 2020
Creative Director: Sarah Burton

From Kitchen Table To Runway: The Process Behind Alexander McQueen's S/S 21 Pre-Collection Couture Looks

26 January 2021
From hand-dyeing techniques in the design team's gardens to pattern cutting at kitchen tables; discover the design process behind the Alexander McQueen couture looks from their S/S 21 pre-collection.
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