Alexander McQueen unveils Roses, its latest Open Access installation
The house of Alexander McQueen on Friday unveiled its latest Open Access installation in London, and this edition says it with flowers, sometimes dating back to the founder.
Entitled Roses, at the exhibition’s heart are two dramatic finale pieces representing the form and energy of flowers: a swirling red rose dress by Sarah Burton from her Autumn/Winter 2019 show, and a poetic dress Lee Alexander McQueen originally constructed with fresh flowers from the climax of his 2007 Sarabande show – a legendary fashion moment inside the Cirque d’Hiver, where models marched in the famed Paris circus and a chamber orchestra played Handel’s Sarabande, theme music to another classic, Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon.
A facsimile of the original Sarabande show invitation and a poster for Roses celebrate the installation at the McQueen flagship at 27 Old Bond Street, in Mayfair. Roses opens to the public on 30 November and continues to the end of April.
“I want to show how community is at the heart of everything we do at Alexander McQueen. Right from the beginning, when I started with Lee, from Central Saint Martins in 1996, and there were only a few of us, he gave everyone – the interns as well – hands-on experience in making things,” said Burton, who succeeded Lee at his passing in 2010.
The Red Rose dress stands in a cluster of materials which document how its petal-like 3D form came to life. A video follows the label's head of atelier, Judy Halil, as she makes the dress itself, a step-by-step demonstration which makes the expertise of the studio at Alexander McQueen real and tangible. Samples of work-in-progress and background research are arranged around a studio cutting table at which practical masterclasses – on pattern making and couture techniques - with students will take place, led by Burton and Halil.
The dresses lead to a walk-in glass cylinder. Inside, the original video of the flower dress making its entrance at the Paris Cirque d’Hiver show plays; while further juxtapositions of dresses with English roses, camellias, exploded carnation-shapes, garden flowers and bees unfold throughout the space.
The house launched the concept of an open access installations and collaborative education in January 2019; dedicating a floor of its Mayfair store to an audience of students invited from around the United Kingdom – creating an extensive program devoted to sharing the history and skills of the house.
The first installation, Unlocking Stories, explained the creative process behind five look from the Spring/Summer 2019 collection – with records of fittings, samples of work in progress, field trips and primary research undertaken by Burton. Reacting to the debut exhibit, a Central Saint Martins fashion illustration class guided by Julie Verhoeven developed sketches later transferred into prints by Burton, which were then hand-embroidered over by her staff members in looks in her most recent critically acclaimed show.
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