The Rear View
Central Saint Martins Museum & Study Collection has recently lent its prized Alexander McQueen leather jacket to Present Imperfect: Disorderly Apparel Reconfigured on show at the Fashion Space Gallery at London College of Fashion. Here, Anna Buruma, the Museum’s curator shares more about this collection highlight.
Alexander McQueen studied MA Fashion at Central Saint Martins in the early 1990s. Having trained on Savile Row, McQueen placed tailoring at the heart of his work. This prototype was made for his 2005 Spring collection, and was donated to us in 2010 by a stylist who was gifted samples by the studio.
The jacket is made of cream leather lined in silk. It is decorated with paper ‘test prints’ and pieces of pink laser-cut leather trim, with red marker pen lines to indicate changes in the shape of the garment, showing how McQueen wanted the final jacket to be embroidered and finished. Offering glimpses into McQueen’s design process, these kind of pieces are very rare as they weren’t made to last. As s result, this jacket is extremely fragile, with the leather trim and photocopied decoration simply sellotaped onto it.
Present Imperfect is about fashion curation and archiving, using objects that express material fragility and the wear that clothing often experiences. For conservation reasons the jacket is normally viewed flat and in its acid-free box, meaning that our visitors do not see the garment’s back. Although removed from its box for this exhibition, the McQueen prototype jacket is still displayed flat and front-up. The image here is of its rarely-seen back – but don’t forget to visit the exhibition in order to see it in the flesh or come see it back in its box when it returns to our Museum & Study Collection in August.
Present Imperfect: Disorderly Apparel Reconfigured is at the Fashion Space Gallery at London College of Fashion, 12 May – 4 August.