As the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition continues to thrive during its second month at the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington, London, we are filled with nostalgia of the beauty and inimitability of his work. A collection that is particularly poignant is ‘Plato Atlantis’, McQueen’s S/S10 collection that was ironically the final collection that he walked before his suicide in February 2010. Consisting of greens, blues and yellows, the collection was completely inspired by the aquatic, natural world, reminding us of the sincerity yet creativity behind McQueen’s work.
Fashion designers taking inspiration from the cultural and natural elements in the world has been developing constantly since the early 20th century. For example, Pierre Cardin designed his ‘Space Age’ collection in the early 1960’s. This was heavily inspired by Neil Armstrong’s ‘triumphant’ visit to the moon, the Sputnik Space Station in Russia, alongside regurgitated gossip across the globe that ‘the future had begun’. However, Cardin managed to successfully populate this idea through the use of vinyl, plastics and large zips, also elevating the fashion world. This collection was completely due to what was happening in ‘history’ at that time.
Paul Poiret is another prime example of a designer who used cultural influences to inspire his work, particularly through the movement of the Ballet Russes. Poiret was keen to emancipate women and free their bodies of pieces such as the corset, which were causing them internal and external injury. This was frowned upon in the early 1900’s because of the Suffragette movement and the generic anger towards females. Poiret challenged this anger by exploring the romantic and theatrical possibilities of clothing, he successfully epitomised the kimono and focused solely on ease and comfort for women with pieces such as the harem pant. Yet another designer changing the fashion world forever.