Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter 1999
The models were trapped in a box filled with whistling wind; snow was falling down and created the ambiance of an eerie snow globe. In the middle of the runway there was an ice skating rink. McQueen always loved to add visual components to his shows. He was a designer whose love for theatre shined through in his settings as he referenced many different aspects of film, music, and the arts.
Inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film The Shining, McQueen named his Fall/Winter 1999 show after the film’s haunted hotel, The Overlook. In the movie, a family of three is care-taking a hotel during a harsh winter. As the plot furthers, we watch the film’s protagonist descend into madness. McQueen has been known for his collections full of deep emotions such as fear, romance and terror. Often referencing his own psychology, McQueen’s creations are reflections of how he is feeling - communicating on indirect levels. He states that his collections “have always been autobiographical, it was like exorcising [his] ghosts.” (Savage Beauty) The intensity of the film fits perfectly with the haunting theme of the presentation. McQueen’s imagination is both dark and light, many times deeply troubled, mischievous and beautiful.
McQueen referenced the redhead twins, including a direct allusion to the film’s infamous characters in the collection. The models all had dark brown wigs, long thin faces, which strike a similarity with the protagonist’s wife, Wendy Torrance. White makeup was smeared across the eyes of the models and symbolized Wendy’s blindness to her husband’s progressing insanity. The pure color also represents snow, winter, and goodness.
The last scene of the movie shows Jack Torrance chasing his son Danny around a maze. A tumultuous snowstorm was in the air. Frostbitten and running for his life, Danny outsmarted his inarticulate, frenzied father. Jack was left frozen, a victim of Mother Nature.
The clothes personified the storm. There were crystal tops, luxurious furs, opulent jacquards, and skirts that had as much detailing as a snowflake. Many times McQueen has channeled the Sublime in his collections. Andrew Bolton explains, “One of the reasons why he loved nature so much was because it was so unpredictable. It is spontaneous; it is something one can never control, and I think that was always something he liked to show in his collections.”
McQueen will be forever known as a designer unafraid to take daring steps. He gathered his inspiration from the most arbitrary of places. The magnificent masterpieces of both McQueen and Kubrick make a wonderful analogy. McQueen’s unconvential fashion was his medium to relate his innermost emotions, ideas, and feelings. He used his collections to challenge the feelings of others. With every collection he pushed the boundaries of fashion. He always used his imagination stating that, “When you design with a buyer in mind, the collection doesn’t work. The danger is that you lose the creativity that drives you.” (Savage Beauty) We are all aware that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.