Alexander McQueen A/W 2001: "What a Merry-Go-Round"
When audience members entered the Fall 2001 McQueen show, they were treated to a huge merry-go-round, colorful lights, and a soundtrack of children laughing and playing. Set outside of a Victorian toy shop, it was his next show after the famous VOSS; Lee McQueen had now left Givenchy and was focusing solely on his own brand.
In typical McQueen fashion, the happy setting of the show almost immediately took a turn for the sinister. The colorful lights were turned down, and the child-like laughter was replaced by a hard-edged soundtrack. Models emerged, with flapper-inspired hairstyles and dark, exaggerated lipstick, in a very provocative nature; the poles of the merry-go-round almost appeared to be stripper poles and the girls were in turn ladies of the night.
The clothing for this first half drew inspiration from a variety of sources; of course the Victorian gothic was present, as well as American flapper style, and Napoleonic era military pieces. The textures were lace, silk, leather (some even patent leather)…hard-edged tailoring was ever-present and the models walked the runway with a great deal of attitude and sex appeal.
The finale of the show was, true to the history of the brand, epic. The merry-go-round was lit to reveal a set of eery carnival props. Skeletons, broken dolls, balloons, and puppets were all present. Now, the models walking out had elaborate hair and face paint made to mimic the look of clowns. These were not your run-of-the-mill happy carnival clowns; these were the distorted, macabre clowns of nightmares. Their faces painted in a frown or a creepy smile, they climbed aboard the merry-go-round one-by-one, writhing dangerously in their beautiful silk and lace gowns. Perhaps the most famous image from the show is of one of the “clowns”, in a black satin dress and striped tights, dragging a gold skeleton by her ankle. The theatrics that the Alexander McQueen label is famous for were ever-present in the A/W 2001 show.