I've worked on fashion shows for many years. In fact my very first show was in 1997 and was for Givenchy Haute Couture when Alexander McQueen was the designer (more about that in another post). I had honour of working on McQueen shows many times in both London and Paris, all of them memorable. The very special show that will stay in a lot of people's minds was the spring/summer collection shown in October 2009. To everyone's great sadness, it was Alexander McQueen's last show.
For me, it all started when Nick Knight was shooting a film that would be the backdrop of the Paris show. It featured the beautiful Raquel Zimmerman and included lots of snakes!
For the film, I applied natural looking tips on Raquel that were left quite long as this added to the 'drama'. It was an extraordinary day and we all witnessed the absolute delight of Alexander McQueen when he started to see the results.
Here is the link to the film on Showstudio
Some weeks later I attended a show meeting with him and the hairdresser (Guido) and make up artist (Peter Phillips). McQueen explained the concept and showed all his references. It was clear he wanted a progression of 'creatures' from the earth returning to the sea. He wanted the usual shapes e.g. Face, hair and nails, to be altered in some way.
The show was to be sponsored by Minx so, between us, we decided to use the amazing range of fabric designs and reproduce them on Minx. The nails at the show would begin short at the start of the show and get longer towards the finale. We were sent, confidentially, all the fabric designs and Janice Jordan from Minx worked her magic and picked out details from each design. As usual, each design was scaled to fit the various sizes of fingers and the Minx metallic and holographic technique (that was so new at the time) could create nails that looked 3D! There were 30-40 different designs!
Dawn Lynch-Goodwin (co-founder of Minx) came to the UK with the Minx's and, between her, some of my team (David Barton and Adam Slee) and I, we made 1000 nails for the various sections for McQueen and his stylist, Camilla Nickerson, to choose from!!!
I and my show team (Adam Slee, David Barton, Helen Lisle-Taylor, Luck Galsworthy, Mirka Poikkeus, Janice Jordan and Dawn Lynch-Goodwin) arrived backstage at the show and I unrolled the Minx mat. Everyone crowded around and were quite astonished at the number of nails and how amazing they looked! We got to work on the 50 models while they were having their hair and make up done. The whole show was incredibly complicated with prosthetics being applied to the face and hair plaited with pieces being added to create the 'creatures' of Alexander McQueen's truly unique imagination!
McQueen gave a very inspiring little speech to the girls about their 'tribes' and, due to the 'extreme' shoe design, not to worry too much if they fell. The show was ready to go!
The show was a totally unique experience for all who witnessed it! It had robotic cameras that captured the girls, the audience and the Plato's Atlantis film that was the back drop of the runway. The show was being live streamed (the first time ever for a fashion show) by Showstudio. But we were all in for another amazing experience! At the finale there was a sudden burst of astonishing sound! It was the 'anthem' of Lady Gaga's Bad Romance. Heard for the first time in the world, it was played at the show! The sound of it amazed everyone! Lady Gaga had tweeted to her followers that it was playing and, unfortunately, the vast amount of people opening the live stream crashed it!! We were the lucky ones as we were there.
It was a very emotional show that reached new heights of fashion and showmanship that is all Alexander McQueen. It proved to be even more important than anyone knew as it was to be his last show. Alexander McQueen took his own life a few months later.
Some of the great experiences of my career have been witnessing the genius of the man. I don't pretend to have known him but I have worked on many projects with him that have always been highlights for me.
Here is a link to the full show. It is truly worth watching! It is followed by a link to a memorial film by Nick Knight that I also had the honour to work on.
The show was produced by Gainsbury and Whiting