Evening Reading: Alexander McQueen. Blood Under The Skin "
Evening Reading: Alexander McQueen. Blood Under The Skin "

Video: Evening Reading: Alexander McQueen. Blood Under The Skin "

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“The lights went out in the hall; amid the eulogy of drug addiction I Wanna Get High by Cypress Hill, a slender girl in silver trousers with a shockingly low waistline and an impeccably tailored frock coat stepped on the catwalk. It was October 20, 1993; the action took place at the Bluebird Garage on King's Road, London. As the collection, called Nihilism, was shown, the epitome of heroin chic grew darker and more disturbing. One of the models greeted the audience with her middle finger. Another girl, in a long white sleeveless cotton dress stained with red paint, looked like a recent victim of violence. Then the audience saw a pale young lady in a mini-dress made of cling film, splattered, at first glance, with dirt and blood. She looked like Stephen King's Carriewhich ended up in the House of Haute Couture.

"Alexander McQueen's debut was a horror show," wrote Marion Hume of the Independent. The newspaper gave "Nihilism

It is quite understandable that none of the journalists writing about fashion had any idea about the true origins of the imagery. They did not know that Lee's son-in-law, the one who abused him as a child, often beat his sister Janet in front of the boy. Many critics have denounced the collection as tasteless and misogynistic. A columnist for trade magazine Draper's Record even found the collection "dull." "Aside from one flamboyant '70s-inspired suit of two-tone diamond print and gents turtleneck shirts, the rest wasn't worth waiting an hour."

However, Hume noted that despite the "perverted image of women," McQueen tried to express new modern trends in his collection. His costumes told about “battered women, about violence, about an everyday miserable existence, which is compensated by an unbridled, drug-filled nightlife, going to clubs, where it is customary to be half-naked. In this perspective, his things, perhaps, more accurately reflect reality than the chic evening dresses from Valentino. " She recognized that McQueen, like Rei Kawakubo and Vivienne Westwood, had something new to say. When Kawakubo first showed her women's collection under the Comme des Garçons (Like Boys) brand in Europe, many viewers left the audience without waiting for the end. And when Westwood adorned her raw meat leggings with penis images, Hume herself admitted,that she felt horror and disgust. However, Hume emphasized the importance of allowing young designers to experiment. “Anything new should be shocking,” she sums up. "And if something causes disapproval from us, fashion critics … or we think it's tasteless, then so be it."

At the time, London Fashion Week was still considered the poor cousin of its luxurious cousins ​​in Paris and Milan. As Edward Anninful emphasized in the introduction to an article in the October issue of iD magazine on six new talent - including McQueen, Nicholas Knightley, John Rocha, Abe Hamilton, Flight Austell and Copperwheat Blundell - while British creativity is admired in all over the world, at home, young designers are at a disadvantage due to their inexperience in business and not always perfectly honed skills. “We, like no one else, love to boast of innovative mature talents, but we just shrug our shoulders when they are tempted by European high fashion houses …” - he wrote. However, young couturiers have proven that they can create clothes that they want to wear; in addition, they were distinguished by their business acumen.This combination "heralded a revival of the maligned British fashion industry." In an interview with Avril Mare, who wrote a short article about him that accompanied Enninful's report, it is said that although he is "not chic at all," he strives to "weave traditional haute couture techniques into fairly simple things." At the heart of his work was the well-known eroticism: "Sex makes up most of what I do," McQueen said. According to Avril Mayor, the designer seemed to her more like a football fan-bully than a creator of delicate and impeccable clothing designed to flatter a female figure.he seeks to "weave traditional haute couture techniques into fairly simple pieces." At the heart of his work was the well-known eroticism: "Sex makes up most of what I do," McQueen said. According to Avril Mayor, the designer seemed to her more like a football fan-bully than a creator of delicate and impeccable clothing designed to flatter a female figure.he seeks to "weave traditional haute couture techniques into fairly simple pieces." At the heart of his work was the well-known eroticism: "Sex makes up most of what I do," McQueen said. According to Avril Mayor, the designer seemed to her more like a football fan-bully than a creator of delicate and impeccable clothing designed to flatter a female figure.

When designing the fabrics, Lee turned to Fleet Bigwood, who taught textile design at St Martin's College, for help. Fleet recalls how Lee showed up at college two days after his graduation show in a tanned vest, pleated skirt and jeans; he angrily explained that he wanted to make his collection. “Everything got me,” he said. “Nobody cares about me except this crazy rich girl [Isabella Blow. - E. W.] "." I liked his anger, - recalls Fleet. - He was inspired by the desire to send everyone: and the fashion industry, and journalists, and buyers. He was disappointed, it seemed to him that no one was giving him his due, not understands what he has to offer.”Bigwood at the time was living in Streetham, just half a mile from Tooting, and often stopped by Lee’s house, where he watched McQueen“burn throughtears "matter or in another way" mocks "it. “It was so naive,” Fleet recalls. - He drew sketches, cut and designed his own prints. He lacked general training because he was a cutter, but that did not stop him from enjoying all stages of the production process. " When Fleet saw the Nihilism collection, he said he was not delighted with it. “I was born in 1962, and, of course, my passion for punk did not pass me by, but Lee was too young for punk. It slightly jarred me; it seemed that he just wanted to shock the audience, but we saw something different! Now, looking back, I understand that he had the same big influence on the style as punk, and it turned out to be just as long-lasting. "cut and developed his own prints. He lacked general training because he was a cutter, but that did not stop him from enjoying all stages of the production process. " When Fleet saw the Nihilism collection, he said he was not delighted with it. “I was born in 1962, and, of course, my passion for punk did not pass me by, but Lee was too young for punk. It slightly jarred me; it seemed that he just wanted to shock the audience, but we saw something different! Now, looking back, I understand that he had the same big influence on the style as punk, and it turned out to be just as long-lasting. "cut and developed his own prints. He lacked general training because he was a cutter, but that did not stop him from enjoying all stages of the production process. " When Fleet saw the Nihilism collection, he said he was not delighted with it. “I was born in 1962, and, of course, my passion for punk did not pass me by, but Lee was too young for punk. It slightly jarred me; it seemed that he just wanted to shock the audience, but we saw something different! Now, looking back, I understand that he had the same big influence on the style as punk, and it turned out to be just as long-lasting. "did not delight in her. “I was born in 1962, and, of course, my passion for punk did not pass me by, but Lee was too young for punk. It slightly jarred me; it seemed that he just wanted to shock the audience, but we saw something different! Now, looking back, I understand that he had the same big influence on the style as punk, and it turned out to be just as long-lasting. "did not delight in her. “I was born in 1962, and, of course, my passion for punk did not pass me by, but Lee was too young for punk. It slightly jarred me; it seemed that he just wanted to shock the audience, but we saw something different! Now, looking back, I understand that he had the same big influence on the style as punk, and it turned out to be just as long-lasting."

Marine Hopper, head of fashion at the American edition of ELLE and daughter of actor Dennis Hopper, was delighted with Nihilism. In the spring of that year, Lee and Marin met, and he told how he worked on Savile Row, where he scratched secret "messages" on the lining of jackets. “I thought it was so punk,” said Marin, who later wrote about his work in the pages of her magazine.

Bobby Hillson was in the auditorium on the day of the show. Watching models walk through the ramshackle Art Deco-styled Bluebird before the center was turned into a fancy restaurant, McQueen's former mentor felt a deep sense of satisfaction. She realized that her risk was justified. “I got goosebumps,” she said of the show, comparing it to a wonderful theatrical performance.

In the collection "Nihilism" McQueen for the first time released on the catwalk models in the famous trousers, "bumsters", or "ass". Their waist was so low that, in the words of one critic, "there was a hollow between the buttocks." According to fashion historian Judith Watt, the origin of the bumsters, after which more than one generation of men and women wore jeans or low-waisted trousers, owe their origin to Juan de Alsegui's 1589 book, The Book of Tailor's Patterns, which McQueen read (translated from Spanish into English was made in 1978). In the 16th century, men wore low-waisted breeches that sat at or below the hips. “By adding modern cutting techniques, he opened up a whole area of ​​erotic interest, he created something new,” she wrote.

For McQueen, underlined eroticism was at the heart of everything. By introducing basters, McQueen introduced both sexes to the merits of the S-bend, which the artist W. Hogarth called the "beauty line" and which the hero of Alan Hollinghurst's 2004 novel of the same name yearned for. “I wanted to lengthen my figure, not just flaunt my butt,” McQueen said of his 1996 bumpers. "For me, it's not so much the buttocks as the lower back - the most erotic part of the body, both male and female."

For Seth Nyland, his new girlfriend who has worked as a stylist for magazines such as The Face, bumpers are a natural extension of the revolutionary ideas of French couturiers such as the women's tuxedo by Yves Saint Laurent. “Lee called the bumpers 'construction pants,'” recalls Seth, who helped McQueen run the Nihilism show. - He paid attention to construction workers with bulging backs; perhaps it seemed beautiful to him. But to dress women like that? Models were afraid to go to the podium in bumpers; I had to persuade them. I didn't succeed, but then one girl took a chance, and everyone was delighted."

Lee loved Seth's stories about her dark past. So, she told him that her sister was killed. In turn, she was attracted to McQueen by his “outsider” position. “I also felt like an outsider, of the wrong color, although, probably, by that time I already had the right accent,” she admits. They met after Lee graduated from St Martin's College; they often went to the Maison Bertaux pastry shop and sat at the table for several hours, stretching out a cup of coffee or tea and cake. Seth usually paid for the meal, who, like Lee, was then “no money”. “He kept repeating that he wanted to make a collection, and I asked:“How will we cope with this?”. I’ve been to fashion shows and I knew how much they cost. And he replied: "Let's try." To begin with, I had to persuade my acquaintances to give us something for free.I went to Bluebird Garage and lied that we were showing an unscheduled collection. I asked the guys I knew, lighting fixtures from Glastonbury, to put on the lights for the show. The chairs were borrowed from neighboring institutions; we persuaded the journalists we knew to come, they printed invitations for free. I used all my connections to help us invite models for free. We got a few good girls for free."

In the process of preparation, the threat constantly hung over them that everything would fall apart due to a lack of funds. Lee was still on unemployment benefits, and Seth, who lived in a government apartment in Kensington, earned very little money for her work as a stylist in glossy magazines. On the day of the show, Lee and Seth suddenly realized that they had nothing to buy underwear for the models. Sethe saw a roll of cling film; she tore off pieces of film and wrapped them around the models. “Need breeds genius and creativity,” she said, laughing. However, it was not without excesses. “Nobody was paid anything, and at the end of the show, the models just threw the suits in bags,” recalls Chris Byrd.

Among other things, Seth had to deal with musical accompaniment. Among her chosen tracks was Radiohead's 1992 single Creep ("Fool"), dedicated to the "self-destructive rage of unrequited love." Backstage when the show ended, Lee turned to Seth and said he hated her for choosing this song. “He was terribly angry and did not understand why I chose that particular song,” recalls Seta. - And I wanted the audience to say: “Yes, maybe he looks like a fool, but look what he can do!” … To the fashion industry, he seemed strange, ill-mannered until his things began to speak for themselves; then his critics had to admit defeat. The song sounded ironic in relation to his collection, because he was not a fool. Now, looking back, we can admit that everything was done in a hurry, not licked,but that was Lee's beauty. The cut was amazing, the fabrics innovative. And there was brutal grace in everything, in my opinion, this expression perfectly describes the essence of Lee."

At the Nihilism collection, McQueen first demonstrated another of his trademarks: the logo formed by a lowercase letter c inside an uppercase Q. It was invented by Alice Smith and drawn by her then-boyfriend, a graphic artist. "Lee, of course, didn't pay us anything," Alice says. - But I forgive him. His first collections were unlike anything he had seen before. Of course, the audience at the shows were shocked, so they are valuable, but the design and execution were wonderful. Cressida and I literally cried because we were very worried about him. We didn’t know if he would cope, so then we were more and more amazed. He showed one collection after another, and each turned out to be larger and better than the previous one. But it always seemed to us that everything could collapse at any moment."

Andrew Wilson, Alexander McQueen. Blood under the skin. " Publisher: Tsentrpoligraf

Translated from English: A. V. Krovyakova

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