In The Mouth Of Madness - Alexander McQueen SS 2001

Before he decided to make an untimely exit, Alexander McQueen was the undisputed ‘infant terrible’ of English fashion. He effortlessly took the macabre to all new levels with every collection he sent down the runway, season after season. The one I remember in particular was his Spring Summer 2001 collection. It stayed with me all these years because it was like being in the midst of a surreal and terrifying nightmare, with the characters all dressed in fashion sharp enough to cut through your heart. 

A McQueen classic, the show went beyond the ballsy showmanship that the designer was already known for. As the audience sat around a mirrored cube, the set was lit up from inside, and a bevy of models, dressed as demented mental asylum inmates walked out in the designer’s creations. Hospital headbands and haunted looks completed the look of madness. As the initial shock turned to fascination, McQueen’s collection unfolded, evoking beauty and horror.

From pearl colored cocktail dresses and mussel-shell skirts to wearable pant suits and elegant party dresses, the designer’s signature excellence in tailoring shone through. And then there were the gothic, theatrical pieces added for drama: Jade Parfitt wore a feathered creation with stuffed eagles suspended over the head, while Erin O'Connor shone in a white dress made from razors. Add to this a top made out of a jigsaw puzzle, and a miniature castle used as a shoulder pad, and you had a collection that was posed to fly right over the cuckoo’s nest. Another stunning creation, used as a show stopper by McQueen combined red microscope slides with red and black feathers. The creations, presented as Gothic art, had the desired effect-dazzling and unsettling.

And just when this dark fantasy seemed to have reached a peak, the audience was in for a final shock. A large grey cube, placed in the centre of the Asylum set opened to reveal the exact setting of a famous Joel Peter Witkin shot, quite possibly the inspiration for the show’s theme. For there sat a fat, nude woman, her face covered by a mask, breathing through a tube. Fluttering moths surrounded this apparition, flying away, as a shocked and enthralled audience rose to give the master of edgy fashion a fitting standing ovation.

To balance a show like this with a sublime collection is an art few designers possess. Proving his genius as a revolutionary creator of fashion, in the trademark McQueen way, the designer had pulled it off yet again. Over a decade down, I still get the shivers when I watch the video of this show. Too talented, too insane, too ahead of his time. He had so much more to give. Sadly, we will never know. 

Watch the entire show here, if you have the stomach for it. For some reason though, there is no sound in this video.


  1. What a stunning collection it was! Thanks for sharing these pictures! ;)

  2. I am so not in to fashion that I had not even heard of him before he died!

  3. WOWOWO!!! He was soooo brilliant! UNBELIEVABLE!!
    xoThe Beckerman Girls



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