Li Edelkoort recently pronounced “the end of fashion as we know it”, describing the fashion industry as “a ridiculous and pathetic parody of what it has been”. It wasn’t always thus. Alexander McQueen’s short life blazed so brightly that even people who maintain they don’t care one jot for fashion will recognise his name. Those of us who do care for fashion are in for a magnificent double treat as spring 2015 sees both the long-awaited Victoria and Albert Museum’s Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition and Tate Britain’s photography exhibition which presents the result of a unique collaboration between the artist Nick Waplington and Alexander McQueen.
Waplington photographed McQueen’s fascinating creative journey as he prepared and presented the A/W09 collection, The Horn of Plenty. He was given unprecedented access to McQueen’s studio, and captured an intense and theatrical working process, from sketching to production to the Paris catwalk show. The resulting images, over 130 large and small scale photographs, are all the more poignant because of McQueen’s suicide on the 11th February 2010. Maybe this was in McQueen’s subconscious when he constructed The Horn of Plenty collection as an iconoclastic retrospective of his career in fashion, reusing silhouettes and fabrics from his earlier collections, and creating a catwalk set out of broken mirrors and discarded elements from the sets of his past shows. The dominant McQueen silhouette of a narrow sculpted waist and wide shoulders together with an abundance of feathers makes this show the very essence of McQueen. The radical theme provided inspiration for Waplington, an artist best known for his photographic work centred on issues of class, identity and conflict. Their artistic collaboration reveals a raw and unpolished side of the fashion world, juxtaposing candid images of McQueen’s working process with rigorously produced photographs of landfill sites and recycling plants.
These were shot in East London, which felt important to Waplington in order to emphasize McQueen’s roots and create a powerful commentary on destruction and creative renewal. McQueen similarly felt he resonated with Waplington’s work, especially with his social realistic Living Room book which inspired a host of photographers such as Richard Billingham.
Waplington admits he has a very erratic way of working and thus the photobook that resulted from this collaboration is unlike anything of its kind. Waplington and McQueen worked on the book together and a large maquette of the book, which they shared as they edited the work, will be on display.
Nick Waplington/Alexander McQueen | Working Process
10 March – 17 May 2015
Open daily 10.00 – 18.00
Words by Anna Bang
Tagsalexander mcqueen, anna bang, Li Edelkoort, Nick Waplington,