Desire and Dread: Alexander McQueen and the Contemporary Femme Fetal

Alexander McQueen, a visionary and extraordinary artist who knew how to capture an audience through a shocking new way of portraying fashion.  One of his most controversial shows Highland Rape was viewed by critics as a horrific scene of  half-naked women, bruised and bloody staggering forth on the runway.  In actuality this was McQueen brilliant ways of razing awareness for the genocide that was happening in different parts of the world.  His particular focus was the war between Scotland and England in which he referred to as “…the rape of Scotland by England,” he believed this war to be not a war at all but a genocide.  These types of shows are what the attention of the press but what captured the attention of couture designers such as Givenchy was his incredible use of slashing and his distinctive way of tailoring, “…it’s razor-sharp, his seams seem to trace the body’s contours like surgical incisions, skimming it to produce pointed lapels and sharp shoulders.”

Another area of fashion that McQueen played with was going beyond the boundaries of what stereotypical beauty is in the fashion world.  In the fashion world outer perfection is key in what is considered to be beautiful.

“McQueen, by contrast, actively explored the tropes of abjection in relation to the female body.” This was best seen in his show La Poupée.  This show was inspired by Hans Bellmars Dolls of the 1930’s.





Alexander McQueen was often mistaken as being a misogynist.  This opinion was completely wrong.  McQueen wanted to create a the vision of a glam based on fear rather than allure and so he did in his version of the show femme fatale, Dante.  He “…wanted to create a women that looks so fabulous you wouldn’t dare want to lay a hand on her.”  McQueen sister was a victim of domestic violence and most of his friends were lesbian so the idea of him being misogynists are quite contrary.  He was actually a man who was quite aware of the cruelty that takes place across the world everyday and wanted to raise awareness to this. Another great inspiration for McQueen was Marquis De Sade who “…is best known for his erotic works, which combined philosophical discourse with pornography, depicting sexual fantasies with an emphasis on violence, criminality, and blasphemy against the Catholic Church. He was a proponent of extreme freedom, unrestrained by morality, religion, or law.”   Sade portrayed women as the sexual aggressor in order to heal the victimization of their arbitrator. 

unfortunately Alexander McQueen ended his life early like most brilliant artist.  He was a visionary and was able to look deeper and see through all the glam and glitz.  He was able to bring darkness and step through the boundaries of the norm in fashion.  He will always be a great inspiration to many other designers.  An innovator who was able to raise conscience of what is really important in the world by playing with the human psych and captivating their interest.







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