Alexander McQueen’s career took off right out of the gate. From his graduating collection from Central Saint Martins titled Jack the Ripper Stalks his Victims (which fashion legend Isabella Blow immediately and entirely acquired), McQueen quickly went on to become one of the most influential designers who ever lived. His influence went beyond the world of tailoring and design; McQueen’s first perfume, Kingdom, launched in 2003 and was a prayer answered for his biggest fans. Two years later came My Queen, a scent that was eventually discontinued.
Since taking over the brand after McQueen’s death at only 40 years old, designer Sarah Burton has had her hand at several fragrances. The first was released after his death, was simply called McQueen, and was an immediate hit. The black bottle with gold gilded feathers on top was the first new scent in a decade.
The brand recently released several new fragrances, all of which are as different from each other and uniquely their own as the many collections McQueen designed. We took a look back at the designer's most iconic collections, pairing each of them with a scent that best represents them. After all, who wouldn't want to be completely submerged in McQueen's world of creative genius?
Highland Rape, Fall 1995
McQueen’s Fall 1995 show titled Highland Rape was the world's introduction to the young designer's often controversial work. It was the debut of his legendary trademark bumster pants, but it also sparked intense outrage from the fashion industry. The show was meant to be a commentary on Scotland's violent history with England but was interpreted as the glamorization of sexual assault, with models runnings frantically down the runway in torn and bloodied clothes.
La Poupée, Spring 1997 Ready-to-Wear
This collection was inspired by Hans Bellmer, the artist who created creepy life-size pubescent dolls, and the show famously featured Kate Moss in McQueen's signature bumster pants. He explained the idea behind the design in an interview: “I wanted to elongate the body, not just show the bum. To me, that part of the body—not so much the buttocks, but the bottom of the spine—that’s the most erotic part of anyone’s body, man or woman.”
It's a Jungle Out There, Fall 1997
Staying true to his fondness of monstrous characters, McQueen's Fall '97 collection was based on H.G. Wells’s novel The Island of Dr. Moreau. The story is about a mad scientist on a remote island who creates hybrid species made of humans and animals. In this show, McQueen sent out his beastly models in stitched up animal skins and wild lion manes.
Joan, Fall 1998 Ready-to-Wear
The element of fire was McQueen's biggest inspiration for this collection, which ended with a model trapped in a ring of fire in a red dress that shielded her identity. Titled Joan, after Joan of Arc, the designer sent the models down the runway in dramatic dresses reminiscent of the Catholic martyr's chain mail uniform and blood red contact lenses.
Voss, Spring 2001 Ready-to-Wear
Perhaps one of McQueen's best-known shows, Voss was inspired by insane asylums and included a huge glass box in the middle of the runway that was modeled after a padded cell in a psychiatric hospital. The audience waited over an hour for the show to start, while the sound of a heartbeat played loudly in the room, driving the crowd to the brink of insanity. Models ran out frantically, holding onto the glass walls, unable to see the audience and seemingly in a panic. At the end of the show, a large box fell open to reveal a completely naked Michelle Olley (a fetish writer) who was reclining in a chaise longue inspired by a Botticelli painting, surrounded by hundreds of moths. Talk about making an exit.
Merry Go Round, Fall 2001 Ready-to-Wear
McQueen's Fall 2001 Ready-to-Wear show was a carnival of creepiness: a merry go round sat in the middle of the runway while a soundtrack of children laughing played in the background, and models with clown-inspired makeup and hair walked around while dragging around human skeletons. The collection features all patent leather looks, beautifully tailored suits, and peacock feather skirts.
Lucious Lips, Fall 2009
By the time the world laid eyes his Fall 2009 collection, the designer was no stranger to controversy. But he did it yet again, this time being accused of making his models look like sex dolls with exaggeratedly inflated lips. The runway was made up of scraps from the sets of his previous shows and the collection was not at a loss of drama.
Plato's Atlantis, Spring 2010 Ready-to-Wear