A MEETING OF MINDS
There has never been a fashion designer quite like Alexander McQueen. From his ground-breaking graduate collection in 1993 to his tragic death in 2010, the British designer’s unique and theatrical approach to his work established him as a visionary whose has found a permanent place in the annals of fashion history.
McQueen’s introduction to Swarovski came in the 1990s, when Nadja Swarovski met the young designer through their mutual friend, the fashion editor and stylist Isabella Blow. Continuing in the company’s own grand tradition of working with the world’s finest fashion designers, Swarovski provided support for McQueen’s iconic Spring/Summer 1999 collection – the first of many noteworthy collaborations between the two.
Swarovski’s support for Alexander McQueen grew into something more extensive in the years that followed. The Swarovski Collective, founded in 1999 by Nadja Swarovski, has collaborated with some of the world’s most talented designers, including Alexander Wang, Christopher Kane and Hussein Chalayan. Working with over 150 designers, the Swarovski Collective aims to encourage creative and innovative use of crystals at the cutting edge of high fashion.
Over the years, McQueen used Swarovski crystal in many of his famous collections, highlighting the endless creative potential of the Austrian brand’s stones. For Spring/Summer 2009’s ‘Natural Dis-tinction, Un-Natural Selection’ collection, McQueen drew inspiration from the natural world of flowers, crystal and minerals, and used Swarovski crystal to bring this to life. Elsewhere, McQueen often made use of his connection with the company when collaborating with other visionary designers on his collections. For Autumn/Winter 2006, he worked with jewelry designer Shaun Leane and milliner Philip Treacy to create two dazzling Swarovski gemstone-encrusted headpieces for the ‘Widows of Culloden’ collection.
After McQueen’s death in 2010, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York assembled Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, an exhibition of the designer’s work, from his own archives as well as from private collections. The exhibition chronicled McQueen’s career, including his many spectacular runway shows, and later traveled to London’s Victoria & Albert Museum in 2015. This expanded showing was presented with support from Swarovski and drew record numbers of visitors over the 21-week run, resulting in several overnight openings at the museum to accommodate the almost half a million people who attended it.
Swarovski’s support for Alexander McQueen was also the inspiration for the launch of The Swarovski Collective. Founded in 1999 by Nadja Swarovski, the program inspired cutting-edge crystal runway collaborations with 150 of the world’s most talented designers, including Alexander Wang, Christopher Kane and Hussein Chalayan.
To commemorate Alexander McQueen’s own innovative use of Swarovski crystal in his collections, Swarovski now continues to provide support for Sarabande, the charitable foundation established to nurture emerging designers who exemplify McQueen’s own creativity. Swarovski has contributed a Swarovski Crystal Application Room to the studios at Sarabande HQ in East London, a space for tomorrow’s leading designers and artists to experiment with crystals and crystal application as they develop their own creative talents.