‘A new creative dialogue’ is how Sarah Burton describes ‘Process’, which sees 12 international women artists interpret her Pre-Fall 2022 collection for Alexander McQueen. ‘We wanted the artists to have total freedom to respond to the looks, creating bold and thought-provoking conversations with their works,’ says the creative director of the project. ‘It’s been very interesting to see how creativity has sprung from so many different perspectives, and the outcomes that have been varied and beautiful.’
Such artists include Ann Cathrin November Høib, Beverly Semmes, Bingyi, Cristina de Middel, Guinevere van Seenus, Hope Gangloff, Marcia Kure, Jackie Nickerson, Jennie Jieun Lee, Judas Companion, Marcela Correa and Marcia Michael – hailing from countries around the world, from Nigeria to the United States, China to Norway. Their various mediums include painting, photography and ceramics; Here, these approaches are applied to a collection that runs with the brief but evocative description, ‘closer to the earth. Grounded. A focus on silhouette.’
The resulting works – to be displayed in Alexander McQueen stores alongside the look which inspired them – draw on different elements of the collection, whether evoking the color palette (electric blue, ‘Welsh’ red), or riffing on the collection’s romantic but architectural shapes . ‘To illustrate the fact that creativity emerges from countless perspectives,’ says the house of the project’s aim.
Here – extracted from the accompanying book, also titled ‘Process’ and art-directed by M/M Paris – six of these artists explain their approach to the project, and their response to the collection itself.
Jennie Jieun Lee, United States (top)
‘In developing my ceramic sculpture piece for the project, I initially began throwing several vessels on the wheel, combining them together to make a tall vessel in the wet stage and then, post the initial bisque, firing-glazing the surfaces as if to imitate the arresting red leather dress worn by the model Wang in the lookbook. With clay, I added my interpretation of the sterling four-ring handle attached to the classic red leather clutch to the top and sides of the piece of the vessel, finishing it with a reflective palladium glaze.
‘Combining the intoxicating features of the leather dress which is steeped in hues of dyed reds to deep burgundy, along with the metallic aspects of the ring onto the body of the ceramic work, I hope to invoke the emotions felt by the woman who gets to wear this chosen garment in her life’s moments.’
Beverly Semmes, United States
‘Marigold shows a golden yellow dress tucked inside a velvet robe, hung high on the wall. The skirt fans out onto the floor from under the robe, like a mermaid’s tail. Piles of peach-toned organza push into waves beneath the tail, and long velvet sleeves in dark blue and pale pink wrap around the pool, containing it. A clutch purse is altered to become a neon yellow handbag with the addition of fabric, duct tape and a hot pink strap. A pair of shoes are now slippers.
‘As I worked, my dog spent most of the day napping in and around the artwork. This led me to unearth a life-size replica of a purchased Labrador Retriever, decades ago in a south Florida thrift store. A light coat of touch-up paint and he was ready to go – with the gold chain from the clutch purse placed around his neck, he took to the pool like a natural.’
Jackie Nickerson, Ireland
‘The inspiration for this piece was two-fold – Alexander McQueen’s love of nature and Sarah Burton’s design silhouette and her description of her designs being “soft armour for women”. The materials I used are a reference to the sea and the challenges we face with marine pollution. I used a recyclable, expandable type of packing paper to represent global trade in relation to our carbon footprint. The material is laser cut to create an expandable quality that resembles a net — in reference to unsustainable aqua-culture. I also used seaweed to represent the natural world.’
Marcela Correa, Chile
‘This work is born as a result of a solo development making a series of small models built as three-dimensional collages based on glued paper, magazine clippings, epoxy resin and fiberglass. It began in the midst of the pandemic, and perhaps for this reason it is about absent faces and broken memories. The work takes a long time to execute, placing successive material layers where each one of them provides new information; gives more life. It is my first three-dimensional pictorial work so it is maybe the beginning of a new stage.
‘The materials interest me as a field of research and not as formal results. This exercise, especially thanks to the intensive use of color as a three-dimensional material, opens new doors, new research.’
Ann Cathrin November Høibo, Norway
‘I chose all the pink and red looks from the collection. I wanted to make a warm and very feminine environment in my studio, and try to translate that feeling into the work. I never make any sketches for my tapestries. They are based more on my shifting moods and drifting thoughts, from day to day. A bit like getting dressed.
‘Weaving is a slow process. I try to adapt and to be flexible, and not be too controlling with the different fabrics, as I blend them with the wool I normally use in my work. With so much masculine pressure going on in the world, it’s important to keep the heart soft. The Alexander McQueen looks inspire me in that way, the gentle and feminine inside with a harder cover for protection. Hold hoodet kaldt og hjerte varmtas I like to say in Norwegian.’
Marcia Michael, United Kingdom
‘[I was thinking about] women who have stood the test of time, forging their own stories, displaying the marks of their lives. Identifying and drawing attention to the power of the breath and the veins and roots which carry the essence of life itself, I wanted to acknowledge this through an embodiment.
‘The embroidery on the dresses shows me that these marks of life are not only visible but can be worn with a proudness that makes them part of a defining moment, a kind of language which transfers on to the wearer, enhanced through and with the movement of wearing the dress. In moving the expression that is formed on the bodice of the dress to the hair and the upper body of the sculpture, the structural renegotiation of this power is transferred to an adornment that transpires, for me, as armour.’ §