In Lee Alexander McQueen's own words "...It's not safe in any way. It's a punked up McQueen It Girl parody of a certain ideal, of a woman who never existed in the first place. It's Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. It's Dior. It's Valentino's ladies who lunch. It's the women you see in those old images by [Irving] Penn. They're all caricatures of their time and I've pushed that caricature even further." McQueen of his "Horn of Plenty" collection for the Paris fashion show, 2009.
Tate Britain, London England. We visited in April 2015, lucky enough to be here during the featured exhibit, "Nick Waplington/Alexander McQueen: Working Progress". Oversized and garish, the magnified photographs of models wearing the fashion of Lee McQueen. Known as Alexander McQueen to the fashion industry, we get a insiders look through the lens of Nick Waplington, documenting the work of McQueen, through the preparation of this stunning line, to the final night of the Paris fashion show in March 2009. Just one year before commiting suicide, just a few days after his mothers death.
With images backlit in the dark of the exhibit room, on the ground floor of the Tate Britain, the first impression is red lipstick which encircles the mouths of the fashion industries' top models. The designs meld together classic houndstooth, black, red and white, Asian influences, futuristic constructions and turbans to finish it off.
In contrast to what McQueen called "the silliness of our age", Waplington the photographer displays wall sized photographs of garbage, landfills with beautiful images of the heaps of rubbish generated by our modern societies. "Consumption", what McQueen was trying to relay through his designs but also the importance of recycling the unused materials. As resources are being wasted daily, part of our throw away mentality, so too we can begin to think about what it is we are using, or not using responsibly, and to reflect on our own impact on the massive, ever growing trash heap of our modern urban environment.
"There's an irony to it, to all of it, and I hope people will see that too. The whole package: the set, the lighting, the soundtrack, the girls, all of it sums up the fact that we are living in a mess. And I want to throw that out to the audience and to make them think." ~Lee Alexander McQueen, excerpt from Nick Waplington/Alexander McQueen: Working Progress