Model, actress and eco warrior reveals her favourite designers
Who would you say is one of your favorite fashion designers? And could you describe me their style? The two first ones that came to mind, Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen, two British designers. I've always been a big, big fan of, um, McQueen's work. I used to work with him a lot when I was in modeling a lot about eight, 10 years ago. And he kind of blew me away with his creativity. I think he's a real kind of true artist. And his imagery was often pretty mad and out there sometimes had a darkness to it, you know, that it looked, it was like kind of almost the borderline of, of where beauty and pain can meet. And, uh, every season he would do shows that were always unlike any other fashion show that were more like theater, where he would just create really creative and unusual experiences for the audiences. Uh, for example, I did show in Paris with him that was half dancers, half, uh, models. And it was based on the film They Shoot Horses, don't they, and it involved dancing around a ballroom stage in his clothes. And Vivienne Westwood, I just think she's a really cool character and has always kind of stuck by her guns and expressed her opinion. I admire her for that and her clothing. It often kind of feels like old fashioned in it's tailoring. So small waist, kind of wide breasts almost as like a corset-like feeling, but then she brings a lot of kind of punk dynamism in how it's cut and isn't traditional in any way. Actually, when you look at it.
The ever stylish broadcaster radio DJ on the decade for music and fashion inspired influence
Hello, I'm Lauren Laverne. My favourite decade for style is now because it's always now because I am as a person, very future focused. I'm not into nostalgia. Um, but what I also like about now is that, uh, the new kind of landscape, whether it comes to fashion or music or any kind of culture really is lateral. The internet has made everything completely available all the time forever. So whether you're into, um, I dunno, uh, hip hop, like nineties hip hop, and you like that kind of maximal super glam kind of bling thing, that still exists over there somewhere. Or if you're a kind of retro soul loving Amy Winehouse fan, who wants to dress in a bit of Westwood and wear big flicky, eyeliner that exists too. That's over here. And then, you know, there's people my age, who are for some reason stuff still buying records and dressing like we did when we were teenagers and that still exists. The internet landscape has kind of spread everything out, but allowed everything to be allowed, things to continue to exist in a way that they didn't before. You know, you had these big kind of peaks and troughs, you had these singular movements coming through and dominating everything and then just suddenly disappearing. That's not what the landscape's like now and that's because of the internet. And I find that very interesting. I think people are still working that out and still come to terms with it and kind of understanding what that means for the future. And definitely what it means for industries like the music industry and the fashion industry. But I think it's incredibly exciting so my favourite decade is now.
An insight into an iconic British designer
Alexander McQueen studied at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and cut his teeth, making suits at the centre of gentlemen's tailoring, Savile Row. Soon McQueen was designing his own collections and wowing everyone with his elaborate fashion shows. In one of the most memorable moments at McQueen's shows, robots spray painted a dress worn by the model Shalom Harlow. We've depicted this iconic moment in fashion history on tactile picture number seven, next to the picture of Kate Moss. Feel over the top left of the tactile picture. British supermodel Shalom Harlow is standing up and facing us. Her body's slightly turned to the left and she's holding her arms gracefully up and out to the sides. In his spring summer show of 1999, McQueen created a visual spectacle that was more like theatre - Shalom wearing a white cotton strapless dress and heels walked down the catwalk and stood on a circular platform. This platform then rotated whilst two robotic guns positioned on either side of Shalom gracefully sprayed her and her white dress in yellow and black paint. Let's explore this scene. From the top left of the picture, trace down to feel Shalom's head. Her black hair is in a loose bun at the nape of her neck, but you can feel her fringe and a longer length of hair hanging loose to the right of her face. Now trace down to feel her bare shoulders. She's wearing a strapless white cotton muslin dress. Well, it's more like a long full circle of material cinched above the bust with a brown leather belt. Feel the thin raised shape of the leather belt. Trace down over the smooth white cotton fabric of the dress, which has been splattered and is literally dripping with colour. The areas of yellow and black are indicated by the raised areas on the dress. This sprayed effect is graffiti in style and look, echoing McQueen's love of mixing punk and high art. Trace below the smooth hem of the dress to feel a textured area, showing layers of white synthetic tule. These layers of netting, give the dress volume. Shalom is wearing black and white slip on sandals with a high wooden heel. However, there's a twist, as the heel of the shoe is in the middle of the sole. After a few minutes, the mechanical guns stopped spraying and the platforms stopped rotating. In an interview about the experience Shalom said:
‘And when their guns were finished, this sort of receded. And I walked almost staggered up to the audience and sprayed myself in front of them with complete abandonment and surrender. The audience was left in shock and awe.’
Now that’s trailblazing fashion, with echoes of 1970s punk, maybe. You can watch this iconic moment in fashion history on YouTube search for Alexander McQueen spray gun dress.