Roses-the latest Alexander McQueen exhibit in London

This isn’t so much a blog as a photo album. I know lots of you appreciate seeing images from the beautiful exhibitions that I often go to so I thought I’d share the pictures I took when I visited the Alexander McQueen shop in Old Bond St, London recently.

If you go up to the second floor of the flagship store you will find a stunning collection of brand new as well as archive garments on display. Whilst you’re not allowed to touch, nothing is behind glass and you are free to take your time, wander around between the clothes and see everything close up and great detail.

The overarching theme this time is ‘roses’ and as well as items from the new collection there are several gowns from past ones including the Sarabande collection from 2007, and The Girl Who lived in the Tree from 2008. McQueen used many natural forms and ‘textiles’ within his collections including shells and bones as well as wood and metal, he never shied away from experimentation.

I adored seeing this dress fairly close up in Savage Beauty but I really wanted to see what happened at the back (I always do when I go to exhibitions!)
Fortunately now I can see exactly what’s happening, it’s beautiful voluptuous folds of rich duchesse satin.

Close by are the most gorgeous, extravagant gowns made from metres and metres of Italian silk taffeta, constructed to specifications which will enhance its qualities of stiffness and pliability. We were told that each gown contains none of the usual stiffeners or interfacings such as crin or horsehair, a small amount of boning is used in the Elizabethan-style collar of the red dress but that’s it.

You can see all the teeny tiny pleats which are so precisely worked in order to flow over the torso.
There is a short video to watch nearby which shows in fascinating detail how these shapes were arrived at, they are carefully built up onto supporting boned bodices and underskirts to carry the weight. The red ‘Elizabethan’ collar dress took approximately 3 weeks to construct.
The skill of manipulating the fabric into cohesive, recognisable forms is breathtaking.
On the walls nearby are photos of the gowns at various stages of construction and trying out lots of ideas, also accessorising them in different ways too.

These photos are well worth taking the time to look at because it gives you some idea of the working process as well as the starting point for ideas. There are images, for example, from Vita Sackville West’s beautiful gardens at Sissinghurst Castle in Sussex (well worth a visit too!)

What appears at first sight to be feathers is in fact finely pleated and shredded silk organza.

What I find so memorable about the show space is the sheer amount of visual information and it’s there for all to see, there’s nothing secretive or precious about the process. Although it’s aimed at students primarily anyone with an interest is welcome too, and the assistants are happy to tell you everything they know, and to point out things which may be of interest. I wonder if other designers would be as happy to open up in this way? The Sarabande Foundation was set up by Lee Alexander McQueen as a way of promoting and supporting visionary creative talent which still continues.

So, what loves a rose possibly most of all? Bees of course! Just take a look at this beautiful gown, it’s so simple in its silhouette and yet the details are stunning.

We didn’t notice the honeycomb design within the fabric initially, and it’s only as I’ve looked again at this photo that I realised there are bees woven into it too!
Can you see the bees in the weave? And some of the hexagons are in a different weave too! So much attention to detail.
Nearby are the test samples for various forms of the embroidery.
…and by complete chance I’m wearing my bee dress!
the two dresses side by side put me in mind of Swan Lake and Odette/Odile, what do you think?
This is the Queen Bee dress which had extraordinary embroidery, it’s all enclosed within a hooped ‘hive’

Just a few more photos! There are also examples of dresses nearby made from beautiful needlepoint, and one riffing on a similar theme of deconstructed corsets similar to the previous exhibition.

I couldn’t resist another selfie with those beautiful dresses (do you like my McQueen-esque boots?)
This is from our visit to the previous show earlier in the summer
McQueeeeeen! I always have great visits with Claire, Kara and Camilla

So to sum up, if you are in London in the Mayfair area I’d urge you to take a visit to the second floor of the McQueen shop. Even if you only have 30 minutes it’s a good way to spend the time and don’t worry, the doorman is friendly, tell him I sent you!!

Until next time,

Sue

9 thoughts on “Roses-the latest Alexander McQueen exhibit in London

  1. Hi Sue, I only recently joined your group when I asked what the waistbands on the skirts of the strictly come dancing dresses are made of. I’m fascinated that the y don’t appear to roll, but also appear soft without any petersham or such like to support them. I haven’t sewn for years, but used to make a lot of my own clothes 30- 40 years ago, even making my own patterns. I was inspired by Betty Foster who I saw on TV. I think on Pebble Mill at One. Your message, which I read this morning is reawakening something in me to sew again. I will just have to find the time now. Thank you for this inspiration. I had no idea that the McQueen shop even existed let alone had this wonderful second floor. I haven’t been down south for years, despite being brought up about 25 miles outside London. When I do go down. I will make an effort to go to this shop. If you do know how the waistbands are achieved on the SCD dresses I’d love to know. They look so classy. I thought I may be able to make a couple. I think they would travel well, & be easy to pack. Teamed with different tops they would be ideal for taking on cruise ships, which has in the last 7-8 become our annual holiday.

    Best wishes Ruth Morriss

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing these stunning pictures, I’d no idea this shop existed let alone had an exhibition floor! I live in Leeds and when we do visit London my hubby tends to steer well clear of the shops! Next time we visit I’ll make sure to go. The bee dress was my absolute favourite it’s amazing! The honeycomb effect reminds me a bit of the intricate work on dirndl skirt bodices. Your dress and boots look fab too and perfect for your day out x

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      1. Hi, went to see this today after reading your review. I had no idea it was there. The dresses were fantastic and the insight into the construction process was fascinating. I liked the video of the fresh flowers dropping off the first dress as it was modelled on the catwalk. The details of the bees was so interesting. I did not notice them in the weave until I reread this when I got home. Also did the Zandra Rhodes exhibition at FTM. Seeing how she did the screen printing took me back to art O level. And all finished off with tapas at Jose’s across the road! Happy New Year

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wow what a brilliant day you’ve had! I’m very envious which is ridiculous considering I’ve already been haha! Happy New Year to you too, thank you for taking the time to tell me you went along, have you been to Mary Quant or Tim Walker at the V&A? they are worth a look too.

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