The London incarnation of Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty has just opened at the Victoria and Albert Museum. (See British Vogue on the additions to the Costume Institute show.) Accompanying the exhibition is a full calendar of events, including a two-day conference in early June. The exhibition catalogue is available in hardcover and paperback from the V&A, with a North American edition to be published by Abrams in May.
This week, the final instalment of my three-part series on Vogue Patterns’ Alexander McQueen designs for the house of Givenchy. (See Part 1 here; see Part 2 here.) Our last four designs were drawn from two Givenchy collections presented in 1999: the Fall 1999 and Spring 2000 ready-to-wear.
6. Givenchy Prêt-à-porter Fall/Winter 1999–2000 (shown March 1999)
As its android-meets-cybergoth runway styling made abundantly clear, the Givenchy Fall 1999 ready-to-wear collection took its theme from the new millennium. The New York Times’ Cathy Horyn reported that “Alexander McQueen … staged his Givenchy show Wednesday with models in Martian pancake and frizzled wigs walking robotlike down a mirrored runway beaming with airport lights. The collection vividly showcased Mr. McQueen’s laser-sharp tailoring—lunar-white trouser suits with crosses etched out in gray fur, slick coats with the couture equivalent of clear plastic upholstery covers, silvery leathers and a molded red top that would enhance any alien bosom” (Cathy Horyn, “Down to Earth in Paris”).
Vogue Patterns nonetheless chose two designs from the Fall 1999–2000 ready-to-wear collection. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the company opted to produce its own promotional photos, which has the effect of highlighting the tailoring—the emerging theme of this series of Vogue patterns. The first, Vogue 2467 (1999), is a double-breasted pantsuit with concealed front closure:
Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ Jacket & Pants: Close-fitting, fully interfaced, lined, double-breasted, below-hip jacket has collar, seam detail around collar, shoulder pads, front extending to side back and into flaps, no side seams, concealed welt pockets, back vent and long, two-piece sleeves with mock vent. Semi-fitted, lined, wide-legged pants have waistband, yokes and mock-fly zipper. Featured in the September/October 2000 issue of Vogue Patterns magazine. (Vogue 2467 was sold in single sizes, rather than the usual size range.)
This Corbis photo shows the runway version of Vogue 2467:
Update: You can now view this collection on vogue.com.
The second pattern, Vogue 2478 (2000), is a pantsuit with inverted lapels and seaming detail on the jacket front:
The envelope description reads: Misses’ Jacket & Pants: Semi-fitted, fully interfaced, lined, below-hip or below-mid-knee jacket has upper collar and side-front cut in-one, shoulder pads, side-front pockets, side-back seams, front zipper and longer than regular length, two-piece sleeves with mock vent. B: side slits. Wide-legged, floor-length, lined pants have front button waistband, welt pockets and mock-fly zipper.
Here’s the Corbis runway photo of the Vogue 2478 design:
Natalia Semanova wore several pieces from this collection in Katharina Flohr’s Star City editorial for Vogue Russia (H/T Alien Sex Friend on TFS):
Just for fun, here are two editorial images of Givenchy’s Fall 1999 ready-to-wear from W magazine that show the collection’s different potential emphases. The first shoot follows Claudia Schiffer in Cannes, while the second re-imagines Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey starring Guinevere Van Seenus (slightly cropped by my scanner):
Parallel Alexander McQueen collection: The Overlook (FW 1999–2000)
7. Givenchy Prêt-à-porter Spring/Summer 2000 (shown October 1999)
For this “sporty” collection, the Carrousel du Louvre was transformed into a high school gymnasium, with the models posing on a tiered podium. The Spring collection is viewable on style.comvogue.com.
Vogue Patterns’ first selection from this collection, Vogue 2486 (2001), is a pantsuit with a ‘tail’ extending into draped panels. View A includes capri pants:
Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ Jacket & Pants: Semi-fitted, lined jacket, mid-calf (center back) has collar, shoulder pads, side panels, no side seams, pockets, self-lined lower back and long, two-piece sleeves. Below waist, tapered or straight-legged pants have shaped waistband and fly zipper. A: lower calf, side back seams with pleat/zipper. B: side front pockets. Purchased top. Featured in the November/December 2000 issue of Vogue Patterns magazine.
Runway photos of the Spring/Summer 2000 collection show the variations on Vogue 2486’s updated tailcoat. As you can see, the purple version on Angela Lindvall is sleeveless and has a longer tail, while the sleeveless, leather version on Gisele Bündchen has a narrower tail. The purple suit also shows the collection’s athletic wear-inspired pant cuffs, which are omitted from the long pants in Vogue 2486.
Vogue Patterns’ second selection, Vogue 2653 (2002), is the last in our series—a sleek suit with decorative hand stitching:
The envelope description reads: Misses’ Jacket, Skirt & Pants: Semi-fitted, partially interfaced, lined, above-hip jacket has collar/loop, shoulder pads, seam detail, front concealed zipper and long, two-piece sleeves. Semi-fitted, straight, lined skirt, above mid-knee, has shaped yokes, right back seam/slit, left back pocket and side zipper. Semi-fitted, slightly tapered pants have contour waistband, seam detail, back slit and fly zipper closing. All have decorative hand stitching. Featured in the April/May 2002 issue of Vogue Patterns magazine (Shop Vogue).
Here’s the pantsuit version; the jacket is quite different from the one in Vogue 2653:
The decorative stitching seen in Vogue 2653 was also showcased in the Givenchy Spring advertising campaign featuring Karen Elson (above).
Parallel Alexander McQueen collection: Eye (SS 2000)
As far as I know, Vogue 2653 was the last Givenchy pattern released by Vogue Patterns. For whatever reason, the two companies’ licensing agreement seems to have ended with the Spring 2000 ready-to-wear. Luckily the agreement lasted a few years into Alexander McQueen’s tenure at the house, giving us this collection of sewing patterns from a period that was influential in McQueen’s development as a designer. As he later recalled:
“Working in the atelier [at Givenchy] was fundamental to my career …. Because I was a tailor, I didn’t totally understand softness, or lightness. I learned lightness at Givenchy. I was a tailor at Savile Row. At Givenchy I learned to soften. For me, it was an education. As a designer I could have left it behind. But working at Givenchy helped me learn my craft.”