The Steps to McQueen's Full Cultural Saturation


Daphne Guinness in Alexander McQueen

Socialite Daphne Guinness publicly donned her McQueen gown for the Met Ball in a New York Barneys’ window. Photo courtesy of Vogue.

While it’s already been widely noted that Kate Middleton’s wedding dress took Alexander McQueen’s image from rebellious fashion house to established household name, the haute brand has achieved cultural infiltration to an unprecedented degree. Here are the key points in its rise.

  • At the forefront of the brand’s image is, of course, the Royal Wedding dress, a highly secret, months-long collaboration between Kate Middleton and Sarah Burton, who stepped in as creative director after McQueen’s tragic suicide a year ago.
  • That hugely public wedding took place just days before the annual Met Ball, which honored the late McQueen.  Stars in attendance wearing the label included Salma Hayek, Gisele Bundchen, Sarah Jessica Parker, Naomi Campbell, Crystal Renn, and Daphne Guinness.
  • Speaking of Daphne Guinness, she partnered with Barneys to don a feathered McQueen gown for the ball in a manner suited to the house’s offbeat image — by turning the dressing into a performance art piece in a window display at Barneys’ flagship store in Manhattan.
  • The Met Ball also served as an opener to the museum’s latest Costume Institute exhibition, ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty,’ a retrospective of the designer’s work from his first collection until his death.

One dress in McQueen’s new Met Museum exhibit.  Photo courtesy of The New York Times.

  • For those who won’t make it to the Met, other outlets are springboarding off the exhibition.  London store Harvey Nichols is paying tribute to the designer by using their windows to display various highlights from McQueen’s career.
  • And then, of course, there are the peripheral signs of cultural acceptance — like the tiny souvenir Armadillo shoe being hawked at the Met gift shop (the real-size version made waves at McQueen’s spring 2010 show — they were so high, some models refused to wear them).
  • It may be more a tribute to Kate Middleton than to the house of McQueen, but  a doll-sized version of both the dress and the new Duchess of Cambridge has already hit shelves.

Outre pop star Lady Gaga donned these shoes for a music video.  Now you can buy a tiny version as a museum shop souvenir.


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