McQueen Touched by Hand

By Jo Phillips

We live in a world where moving images seem to capture our imagination. No real need to stop and engage, a moving image does all the work for us: A complete story to watch. However much we love a film the power of a single image should never be underestimated. McQueen Touched by Hand does just that, gives us an exclusive insider set of images to ponder, contemplate and relish from inside the McQueen design teams’ working process as pieces were put together for their Spring/Summer 2021 pre-collection. These exclusive to .Cent intimate images capture the moments of creativity so immersed in the artistry of the brand

This set of intimate images hark back to the earliest days of the Alexander McQueen label. Imagine the designer himself sitting in his home, working with pieces of fabrics, home dying, crafting on very much an early sense of ‘make do and mend’, creating by hand from then rather meagre resources. This very spirit which so many have revisited in lockdown.

This whole collection (as we showed when it first came out) was all about utilising fabrics that the atelier already had and working with it in a way to reduce waste and use utter creativity to present a fresh collection with ingenuity and brand heritage.

Take, for example, the craft of Dip Dyeing fabric that involves submerging your fabric into a bucket or vat of dye to make it a different colour which gives an ombre effect (i.e a graduation from one colour to another).

Although now done on industrial scales it can be done from home and this is exactly what happened with the McQueen team during lockdown.

This type of dying can be a complicated process when in the hands of true artists. Looking into the dress with off-the-shoulder drape and a tiered skirt in washed silk organza dip-dyed Albion pink and black. The craft is evident. The pieces of the dress were individually dipped separately and then the dress reassembled. The dress was opened at the waist and the bodice and skirt were dipped separately in order that the skirt be dipped upside-down to maintain the pink hem.

Tests and experiments on the fabric were all conducted at the homes of the team but the final result was achieved with the support of a professional dying team.

And what about creating a toile? A toile a muslin or other fabric is the initial mock-up of a garment made to ensure the pattern (made of paper) fits the body before cutting into the final (usually far more expensive) fabric.

These select images also show the process of making toiles in the team’s home, hands on sewing machines, fingers on a tailor’s dummy with pins placed in fabrics. Insider exclusive images of the crafter at work.

These images show the experiments that took place at the creator’s homes working in calico to create a design in 3D. Toiles can be made several times until a final piece is perfect in fit and detail.

The above two images relate to the oyster ruffle dress with a high neck and scalloped back in washed organza dip-dyed Albion pink and black.

The original toile for this dress was cut in the home of a member of the womenswear design team with an initial idea to finish in lace. Yet as the collection progressed it evolved into an oyster ruffled dress, created with multiple layers of organza. This piece was constructed in entirely recycled materials sourced from existing fabric stock making for a very green piece of luxury.

Many trials took place to research the density and scale of the ruffles required to achieve the degradé effect. The creation of the ruffles is labor-intensive: every circle of organza was cut by hand. The panels of ruffles were not stitched on in straight rows, instead, organic waving lines thus achieving the undulating degradé scale effect.

A last intimate image to share is the illustration used in look 29 from the collection. Below is the image of the asymmetric floor-length dress with an exploded skirt volume in washed calico silk organza.

This image is the final dress with hand embroidery over a skeletal corset in silk tulle with hand embroidery.

The embroidery was inspired by drawings in the notebooks of the Alexander McQueen design studio teams, with this image allowing us all to share a very personal part of the design teams journey.

What makes these images so wonderful is the very nature of getting to share their journey and with each still image comes the story we build in our heads; not a dictated story on film but single personal images left for us to imagine and celebrate, something that is in this day and age a rather wonderful experience.

With thanks to the Alexander McQueen team for sharing these images. To see the whole finished collection go to Here

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