“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind ”
William Shakespeare, From A Midsummer’s Night Dream
In 2007, Lee Alexander McQueen, one of the world’s most important fashion designers of the last two decades commissioned British photographer, Nick Waplington, to photograph and develop a book that would capture McQueen’s working process as he designed what would become his penultimate Fall collection, Horn of Plenty (2009), from inception to the grand finale presentation in Paris.
Waplington's resulting images unflinchingly capture what was essentially McQueen’s personal survey of his own creations to date; Horn of Plenty
was a a grand retrospective of his career; a recycling of ideas from the last 15 years - detailed down to the final stage set, composed of broken mirrors and a giant trash heap made up of all the sets from his previous shows. "...Everything is extreme. Extreme-d. An illusion. I’m always interested in depicting the age that we live in and this collection depicts the silliness of our age. I think people will look back at it and know that we were living through a recession when I designed it, that we got to this point because of rampant, indiscriminate consumption. They’ll know that we’re referencing recycling but in a twisted way. That’s why the set is a pile of rubbish and why I have to make clothes out of bin liners and broken records. Of course, I’m not really making clothes out of bin liners and broken records. They’re silks. There’s an irony to it, to all of it, and I hope people will see that too. The whole package: the set, the lighting, the soundtrack, the girls, all of it sums up the fact that we’re living in a mess. "
Lee Alexander McQueen 2009
When finished photographing McQueen’s process from inception to presentation, Waplington had 800 work prints pinned to his studio wall, so that Lee could edit them himself. The images were then transferred into a maquette-type scrapbook and left with McQueen to finalize sequencing – but both artists felt something was missing. In searching to fill this void, Waplington went out with an 8 X 10 field camera and photographed landfill sites and recycling plants in places as diverse as Nottinghamshire, England and the Negev desert in Israel. These images not only added to Lee’s ‘recycling’ theme, but also spoke to Walpington’s own unique, ‘messy’ aesthetic. The work is not only a record of Horn of Plenty
but also, the personal reflection of Lee Alexander McQueen’s vision of himself, and a tribute to the many important and lasting relationships he had with all those who worked alongside him.
The book, sequenced and edited by McQueen and Waplington, was realized just prior to McQueen’s death in 2010 and later published in 2013 as, Working Process (Damiani Editore).
This exhibition provides insight into the unique collaboration between two important artists of our time.
Running until 3 March 2016
Nick Waplington (b. 1970),
is a British photographer born in Aden, Yemen. He studied art at West Sussex College of Art & Design, Trent Polytechnic, completing his postgraduate studies at the Royal College of Art in London. Walpington received an ICP Infinity Award in 1993 and represented the UK at the Venice Biennale in 2001, His work is held in numerous museum collections, including the Guggenheim Museum and MoMA in New York, The Philadelphia Museum of Art and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
Lee Alexander McQueen (1969–2010),
CBE, was one of the most important fashion designers of the last two decades. He was the recipient of four British Designer of the Year awards, as well as the CFDA’s International Designer of the Year award, 2003. In 2011, following his death, the Costume Institute in New York organized an enormously successful retrospective of his work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.