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Alexander McQueen: Cocktail Dress (1997)

GIVENCHY, Paris (fashion house)
 Alexander McQUEEN (designer)

Lee Alexander McQueen garnered a reputation for dark and compelling, savagely tailored and exquisitely unconventional designs. His collections were often framed by a narrative, expressed in his catwalk presentations and reflected in his garments creations.

Cocktail dress was shown in a Paris medical school in July 1997 as part of McQueen’s second couture collection for Givenchy, titled Eclect Dissect. This theatrical collection referenced late-Victorian dress, seventeenth-century anatomical drawings, collage and murder. Conceived as a narrative, the runway show imagined a turn-of-the-century surgeon who travelled the world collecting objects, textiles and women for ghoulish ends. The models represented the murdered women, returned to haunt the living. The garments, mash-ups of exotic finery, showed McQueen’s skilful material dissections of traditional dress codes from Spain, Scotland, Russia and, in the case of Cocktail dress, Japan.

This work and collection speak to McQueen’s undisputed dark vision when it came to placing traditional garment forms out of context in a challenging mix of culture, place and time.

Arwork: GIVENCHY, Paris (fashion house); Alexander McQUEEN (designer) Cocktail dress 1997 {autumn-winter, Eclect Dissect collection}  leather, silk, metal and plastic fastenings
124.0 cm (centre back) 36.0 cm (waist, flat). National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Purchased with funds donated by the Bertocchi family, 2015