Finding Creative Inspiration | Alexander McQueen
Looking outside of the niches I work in helps inspire me.
My go-to place is nature. Whether it’s for the color combinations I never would have thought would work together or just the beauty of it all.
History has also been an inspiration, not from the perspective of wishing to relive something in the past but by using history to move forward.
Those two reasons are why the work of fashion artist Alexander McQueen has always inspired me. He was inspired by the same things and used that inspiration to create some of the best fashion the world has seen and he turned what a fashion show was on its head.
Here are two of his events that changed my life.
Highland Rape | Autumn/Winter 1995
Alexander McQueen, renowned for his avant-garde and daring design aesthetic, staged one of the most controversial and talked-about fashion shows in 1995 – the Highland Rape. By breaking barriers and pushing boundaries, McQueen used this event to showcase garments and make a powerful statement.
The Highland Rape collection drew inspiration from the brutal history of the English invasion of Scotland during the 18th and 19th centuries, specifically referencing the violent atrocities and displacement inflicted upon the Scots. The runway was adorned with torn and disheveled clothing, suggesting themes of violation and aggression. Models with messy hair and makeup reminiscent of bruises paraded down the runway, amplifying the narrative of invasion, vulnerability, and resilience.
Misinterpreted by many as promoting sexual violence, the show actually delved into McQueen’s personal heritage and his anger towards the historical oppression of the Scots. He aimed to confront and challenge his audience, urging them to face and reflect upon the brutalities of history.
Despite initial shock and outcry, Highland Rape set McQueen apart as a designer unafraid to tackle profound themes head-on. His courage in merging fashion with socio-political commentary elevated the medium beyond mere clothing, cementing his legacy as a fashion designer and a provocative storyteller.
Today, the Highland Rape is a testament to McQueen’s genius, reminding us of the transformative power of fashion and its ability to stir emotions, debate, and reflect.
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VOSS | Spring/Summer 2001
In the realm of fashion, few moments are as electrifying or thought-provoking as Alexander McQueen’s Spring/Summer 2001 show titled VOSS. Famed for seamlessly intertwining fashion with art and emotion, McQueen’s VOSS stands out as one of his most captivating displays, challenging conventional perceptions of beauty and normalcy.
The show was housed within an enormous mirrored box, placing the audience in a self-reflective position compelling them to face their own images before the models appeared. For over an hour, spectators saw only themselves, creating an unsettling air of anticipation.
When the box’s walls finally lifted, another box was revealed inside, containing a hauntingly beautiful scene: a lush, dreamlike setting juxtaposed against clinical sterility. Models emerged draped in McQueen’s signature exquisite designs, but their faces were obscured by elaborate masks or distorted by bandages, questioning conventional beauty standards and confronting societal taboos.
The climax of the event was both macabre and striking. The inner box’s walls fell away to reveal a massive glass case with writer and journalist Michelle Olley reclining nude, masked, and surrounded by fluttering moths, echoing Joel-Peter Witkin’s photograph the Sanitarium and the film The Silence of the Lambs.
With VOSS, McQueen masterfully manipulated the boundaries of fashion and art. He thrust the audience into a narrative of introspection, confrontation, and, ultimately, revelation. This show is remembered for its sartorial artistry and as an immersive experience that solidified McQueen’s status as a visionary provocateur.
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Highland VOSS | Romantic Gothic meets Horror through Fashion
What Alexander McQueen was able to achieve during his short life transcended fashion. He left the world with inspiration and his example of how he found inspiration | beauty and horror equating to nature and human history.
Over a decade after his death, his equation inspires me in all art forms because the truth remains.