Alexander McQueen’s Portrait of an Artist

By

Published March 10, 2010

INGRES, JOAN OF ARC AT THE CORONATION OF CHARLES VII, 1954; LOOK 3

 

Alexander McQueen’s legacy was laid to rest with dignity, in an old-fashioned Parisian way: a handful of editors, a majestic ballroom and a grandly festooned show. Sarah Burton, McQueen’s right hand, spoke of the designer’s return from the frenzy of last Spring’s techno extravaganza to the couture-like craft that he’d made his signature.

With all of McQueen’s calling cards—luxuriously detailed and draped silks, ornamental ballroom skirts—the designer’s inspiration spanned as far as Byzantium to Medieval North Europe and back. He illuminated his religious references like manuscripts, gilding everything from the headdresses down. Looking to the Romantic and Neoclassical paintings of Rubens, Ingres and Rosetti, the designer threaded Joan of Arc’s dark victory within metallic feathered headdresses and sculpted armor-like shoulders. There were hints of real-life Renaissance goddesses Elenor di Toledo and Maria Maddalena in handloomed jacquards and stately tri-paneled dresses resembling tightened stomachers which unfolded into loosened panniers. Even Empress Theodora stopped by in luxuriously detailed silk chitons which were draped over short feathered short ballroom skirts. Farewell to a master.