10 Remarkable Creations by Alexander McQueen
Lee Alexander McQueen (1969-2010) spent his career pushing the boundaries between fashion, art and theatre, to create some of the most dramatic and remarkable designs of the past 25 years.
As the record-breaking V&A exhibition of his creations draws to a close, having attracted close to 400,000 visitors from around the world, we take a look at ten of his designs which have fetched high prices at auction.
2000 'Eshu' prototype bodice
In 2000 McQueen presented his first-ever show at Paris Fashion Week, featuring his new collection 'Eshu' – inspired by the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria. McQueen stated the collection was “a reaction to designers romanticizing ethnic dressing, like a Masai-inspired dress made of materials the Masai could never afford”.
This red leather bodice was a prototype created for the collection, designed by McQueen and made by Delia Eccles, a moulded leather specialist studying at Central St Martins. Although it never appeared on the catwalk, it served as the inspiration for some of the show's most stunning designs, and sold at Kerry Taylor Auctions in 2013 for £4,500.
2010 Plato's Atlantis dress
The 2010 Spring/Summer Plato's Atlantis collection was McQueen's final collection before his death in 2010. Inspired by the natural world and McQueen's passion for scuba diving, the collection featured innovative tailoring with vivid animal prints and was regarded as one of his finest achievements. This snakeskin-printed organza dress from the collection sold at Kerry Taylor Auctions in 2012 for £11,000.
2010 unfinished final collection 'Angel' boots
Shortly after McQueen's death in February 2010, 16 pieces from his final, unfinished Autumn/Winter collection were presented to a handful of fashion editors during Paris fashion Week. The designs were heavily influenced by religious imagery and Old Master artworks, with highly-detailed pieces embroidered in reds and golds.
The McQueen fashion house stated “All the patterns in this collection were cut on the stand by Lee Alexander McQueen. Each piece is unique, as was he.”
This pair of boots from his final collection, with a golden winged angel forming the heel and the sole, sold at Christie's in 2012 for £15,000 ($23,415).
2009 'Natural Distinction, Un-Natural Selection' metal buttercup dress
McQueen's 2009 Spring-Summer collection 'Natural Distinction, Un-Natural Selection' was one of the designer's most light-hearted and commercially successful collections. Inspired by ideas of evolution and mankind's place within the natural world, the collection featured everything from subtle animal prints to Swarovski crystal-covered jumpsuits.
This enamelled metal buttercup dress provided the perfect juxtaposition between the beauty of nature and man-made materials, and sold at Kerry Taylor Auctions in 2013 for £16,000.
2009 'Horn of Plenty' cocktail gown
McQueen's acclaimed 2009 Autumn/Winter collection was entitled 'The Horn of Plenty: Everything But the Kitchen Sink', and featured models strutting around a pyramid of discarded junk, including countless props from the designer's previous shows.
McQueen himself described the collection as "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… I want people to look at it and say, ‘What’s that? What’s that? What’s that? What’s that? What the hell is that?’”
This complex Harlequin-print organza cocktail gown from the collection sold at Kerry Taylor Auctions in 2012 for £17,000.
1997 Givenchy jumpsuit and braided kimono
In 1996 McQueen succeeded John Galliano as the head designer for Givenchy in Paris, an appointment which surprised many people throughout the fashion industry. His first Spring/Summer collection in 1997 was considered a flop, with even McQueen admitting it was "crap", but his Autumn/Winter collection the same year was more of a success.
It produced this grey corseted crepe de chine jump suit, with cockerel plumes exploding from the bodice, along with a brocaded kimono with grey satin edging, which sold at Kerry Taylor Auctions in 2013 for £26,000 (far beyond its high estimate of £8,000).
1999 Givenchy embroidered gown
McQueen's fourth show for Givenchy, his 1999 Autumn/Winter collection, featured outfits modelled entirely by faceless plastic mannequins, which mechanically sprang up from trapdoors within the catwalk or rotated on wooden platforms before disappearing again.
It included this couture wildflower embroidered gown, featuring a brown chiffon bodice, a brown and ivory hound's tooth check skirt, and buttons encasing dried flower sprigs, which sold at Kerry Taylor Auctions in 2012 for £30,000.
Kate Winslet's 1997 Oscar dress
In 1997, James Cameron's blockbuster 'Titanic' swept the board at the Academy Awards, winning 14 nominations and 11 awards. Kate Winslet was amongst the nominees for Best Actress, and she attended the ceremony in this stunning full-length green satin and silk evening dress, along with an embroidered bolero jacket, designed for Givenchy by Alexander McQueen during his first year as the head designer for the French fashion house.
Two years later, the dress was sold as part of a Christie's auction featuring outfits from the Oscar red carpet. It achieved the third-highest price of the auction, selling for $57,500.
2008 mini dress made for Daphne Guinness
McQueen first created this sculptural mini dress design, featuring an integrated corset, padded shoulders and bell shaped skirt, for his 2008 collection. He was later commissioned by his close friend, model Daphne Guinness, to make four versions for her in different materials. This metallic silver version was one of Guinness' favourite outfits, and she wore during several photo-shoots and whilst attending numerous high-profile events.
In 2012 Guinness placed items from her extensive couture collection up for auction at Christies, including this dress which sold for £79,250 ($123,709).
2008 'The Girl Who Lived in the Tree' gown
The 2008 Autumn-Winter collection 'The Girl Who Lived in a Tree' was based around McQueen's own fairy-tale, inspired by a 600-year-old elm tree in the garden of the his Sussex home. McQueen listed the collection's themes as ‘The British Empire, Queens of England, the Duke of Wellington. Toy soldiers and punk princesses.’
This ivory silk gown with bodice, embellished with silver paste and glass beads, was created as part of the collection and worn on several photo-shoots by the model and artist Daphne Guinness. The gown was later sold during the same 2012 Christie's auction of Guinness' clothing, where it was bought by Lady Gaga for £85,250 ($133,075) – a record price for a piece by McQueen.
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