Charting the Legacy of Alexander McQueen Through Instagram

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Alexander McQueen S/S01@mcqueen_vault

@mcqueen_vault chronicles a rich archive of rarely-seen-before imagery from the seminal designer’s shows and lookbooks

In the early 1990s, John Matheson was a teenager living in the Southern part of the United States, with an ardent love of fashion. Simultaneously, in the United Kingdom, Alexander McQueen was breaking out of Central Saint Martins and on to London’s fashion stage with his 1992 graduate collection, heralding him as one of the most exciting designers of the era to emerge from the prestigious art school.

“I had started curating a small collection of information about various designers already at this time,” Matheson tells AnOther. “Once I started seeing some of McQueen’s work in the States, that really kind of sparked interest to start building a bit more of a collection specifically about him. At that point it was quite hard to get information on any designer, let alone someone who was just emerging on the London fashion scene. But I persevered.” Fast forward to 2019, and Matheson’s 25-year dedication to McQueen is now being meticulously chronicled on a new Instagram account titled @mcqueen_vault, which was founded in September of last year.

The account began by Matheson taking stock of everything that he had amassed – which, unsurprisingly, was quite a considerable amount. He started by organising magazine tears into chronological order, moving through to press material, and also the multimedia he acquired from McQueen’s notoriously spectacular runway shows. This included rare footage and soundtracks from the designer’s namesake label and also his tenure at Givenchy between 1996 and 2001. “I’ve been quite astonished at the response that it’s already kind of garnered,” says Matheson. “Obviously with Savage Beauty, I knew that people were overwhelmingly interested in his work. But, it was amazing to receive messages from like-minded people. And then a lot of people from the McQueen camp actually started reaching out to me...” 

Indeed, such was the care taken over charting McQueen’s incomparable legacy on Instagram, that those who worked closely with the designer started to take notice, and are now even sending him material from their own personal archives to post to the account. “Everyone from tailors to hairdressers to the accessory designers – it’s such an honour to me,” explains Matheson.

But what is it about Alexander McQueen that would drive Matheson – and many others like him – to become such a fanatic? “McQueen was such a perfect storm of so many things at the right time,” he says. “It was quintessentially British; it was him having the foresight to assemble exactly the right people to give him what he needed. And so many of those creatives who have been in contact, have told me that they worked themselves literally to sickness, and would go into hospital, because they wouldn’t relent until they gave him exactly what he was asking for. You can feel that in every single inch of what he designed. There will be nothing like it again.”