When Alexander McQueen took over from John Galliano as head designer at Givenchy in 1996, it marked a huge change of direction for the design house. Aged just 27, McQueen was brimming with rebellious inspiration – within a very short period of time he had whipped up a controversial storm by describing his first couture collection for the French label as 'crap' in an interview with Vogue and denouncing Givenchy's founder, Hubert Givenchy, as 'irrelevant'. When he left Givenchy in 2001, McQueen claimed that his contract was 'constraining his creativity' and yet, looking back over his five-year reign, the designer created some of his most pioneering, thrilling works for Givenchy, merging his fantastical, often dark vision with the opulence of the design house to enthralling effect. This is reflected in the resounding win for this week's Most Loved post – chosen by AnOther's Assistant Editor Tish Wrigley – the spectactularly ruffled closing look from McQueen's A/W98 Haute Couture collection, combining an extravagant tiered lace jacket with oversized dramatic collar, typical of McQueen's fondness for the Rococo era, with delightfully 90s, lace-trimmed white flares.
There are many moments of note from McQueen's Givenchy years, owing to the abundance of diverse references (highlanders, harlequins, Asian princesses, Amazonian warriors, alien sci-fi women et al) and sheer theatricality that defined both his ready-to-wear and couture collections and catwalk shows, pre-empting his future innovations under his own iconic label. Some of our other favourites include his so-called 'crap' S/S97 couture collection which saw Naomi Campbell, replete in golden ram horn headdress, accompanied by fully-grown cherubs and Roman pillars; as well as his enlisting of amputee model Aimee Mullins to walk for his S/S99 couture show. Mullins famously wore a brown leather "spine" corset, a cream silk lace skirt and solid ash prosthetics, disguised as wooden boots. With their casts of resplendently costumed characters, McQueen's runway shows at Givenchy, and the designs they showcased, gave the fashion house an inimitable edge that has had an enduring effect. But before we lose ourselves in a haze of nostalgia, we catch up with Wrigley to discover why she chose to Love this look and all things couture.
"McQueen gave the fashion house an inimitable edge that has had an enduring effect"
Why did you choose to love this look?
Everyone I know has just got married or is about to get married, so I've been dreaming in bridal. This is spectacular bridal – 90s Marie Antoinette, all train and trousers.
If you were to purchase a piece of couture what occasion would you like to wear it for?
I'd either wear it to stand at the top of a staircase just as an orchestra falls silent or to work on a Tuesday in February.
Which is your favourite Givenchy moment in history?
McQueen's Eclect/Dissect couture collection for A/W97. Birds, bouffants, tartan, geishas, Elizabeth Bennet, Audrey Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, the mad girl from school – everyone was there, and they all looked incredible.
What one word would you use to describe couture?
It's the mad anachronism that keeps fashion interesting.
If you were to spend the day with Shalom Harlow, where and what would you do?
Go to Rome and sit on the Spanish Steps. But that's the first thing I'd do with anyone.
Your favourite 90s supermodel?
What was the last thing you bought?
What's your favourite story in the new issue of AnOther Magazine?
Sylvia Whitman's Document curation is just the best. Fashion-wise, I love Harley Weir and Cathy Edwards's story; Kate-wise, it's all about Collier.