Desire and Dread: Alexander McQueen and the Contemporary Femme Fatale

Alexander McQueen was a designer who would create these awesome visions for his audiences. When he found his inspiration for a collection he stuck to it. His early collections  were recieved as ‘aggressive and disturbing’ and the press accused him of being mysogynistic. It was easy to understand why considering the names and themes of his shows. McQueen’s March 1995 collection Highland Rape , attracted a lot of criticism since the models walked the runway looking disheveled and torn in a mix of military coats and tartan as well as blood splatters and exposed body parts.

Without any insight into the inspiration for the collection of course one would automatically assume this was a gross and insensitive exploitation of rape. I know I had that reaction before reading further. McQueen explained that the collection was about “Englands rape of Scotland”,  and that the wars between England and Scotland was genocide.  With that explaination the depiction of the models made sense to me. Still insensitive to victims of rape, but I guess that was the visual connection needed to portray horrific wars of the past. Article on Scottish wars of independence. click

Some images of McQueen’s Highland Rape collection

More looks from Highland Rape. Looking torn and exposed.

McQueen’s designs are shocking in their themes and portrayals of women for a reason. From the reading it’s revealed that the monstrosities he creates are to empower women instead of victimizing them. “McQueen’s woman was designed to petrify her audience, dressing if not actually to repel or disgust, at least to keep men at a distance, rather than to attract them. His sister was a victim of domestic violence and this also helped inspire him to create a woman “who looks so fabulous you wouldn’t dare lay a hand on her.” He’s quoted multiple times in the book stating how he doesn’t want women to be taken advantage of. I love this. I love the idea of repelling men with fabulousness. 

Here is a link to images of Alexander Mcqueen’s last collection. Which wasn’t grossly shocking in any way like his collections from the 90s, but beautifully inspired by the Byzantine era. click

Beautiful. Looks from the last collection.

Sadly, McQueen committed suicide on February 11th 2010. He was a visionary and it’ll be a long time, if ever, before another person expresses their visions as beautifully as he did.

Alexander McQueen


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