06 May 2011

McQueen's moves at the Met


 McQueen at the board

"It's Only A Game"
Spring Summer Collection from 2005

the Queen's Panniers in Motion

Featured at the Exhibit, a McQueen dress and obi-style sash of lilac and silver brocade; jacket of lilac silk faille embroidered with silk thread; top of nude synthetic net embroidered with silk thread.(Met description)

McQueen's QUEEN on the board


 Photography by Sølve Sundsbø, the Met here

Panniers ca 1750
made of British tan linen and baleen
from the Met's Costume Institute

The  Pannier (French~wicker basket) supported the fashionable voluminous skirts of the early 18th century.  Originally launched in Spain & then on  to England & France , the undergarment was quickly embraced by all of fashionable Europe. The Pannier extended the width of the gown leaving the front and back flat. This arrangement allowed for a perfect canvas, showing off intricate brocades & embroidered silks. The original structure of the pannier was formed of stiffened petticoats &  rows of whalebone running around the skirting. The style escalated to its breadth by 1728 and sailed through most of the 18th century.

 the Met's robe a la francaise

In its most formal configuration, the robe à la française presented a particularly wide and flattened profile accomplished by enlarged panniers. Constructed of supple bent wands of willow or whalebone and covered in linen, panniers took on broader or narrower silhouettes. The most remarkable held out the skirts like sandwich boards, barely wider than the body in side view, but as expansive as possible in front or rear view.

the Met's Queen Diana Vreeland
As special consultant to the Costume Institute, from 1976 to 1989, Mrs. Vreeland  prepares a silk and silver wedding dress worn by Catherine the Great. The 1976 Exhibition -"The Glory of Russian Costume"-was one of  the shows Vreeland mounted  while  working with the Met. Her curatorial skills set the bar high for her successors. Curator Andrew Bolton and Curator in Charge continue the tradition of show stopping exhibits for the Institute- with the "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty" being its latest.

photo from LIFE,  December 2, 1976.

the other McQueen from  It's Only A Game
Spring Summer 2005

the Pieces at Play
past & present

Vreeland's Empress Catherine II, at  left, panniers below
Empress Catherine II before the mirror
 by Vigilius Erichsen, 1779

Queen Marie Antoinette, at right, panniers below
by Mme. Vigee  Lebrun

The King at play- Louis xvi,  
(paniers playing at far right)

& the Grandmaster

Alexander McQueen saw things no one else saw-or could make out.
Of this Collection he said: " the idea of the chess game meant that we looked at six different types of women, women on opposing sides. We had the Americans facing the Japanese and the redheads facing the tanned Latinos.” Another Magazine, Spring/Summer 2005

&  the result?
 a master's Gambit.

all McQueen images from the Met Costume Institute, style.com



  1. One the reasons Las Meninas is one of my favourite paintings. The paniers.

  2. GAYE HOW ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL he is just the modern embodiment of my post (from last night ) how perfect its totaly naughty and delicious and completely misundestood I LOVE IT thankyou Gaye I going to try to link this ! hope it works THANKYOU fay xx

  3. I think the shortened panniers of McQueen's are brilliant. I especially appreciate seeing the close-up you provided.

  4. He rode the line between being unbelievable stylish and artistically creative while still being incredibly aesthetically appealing. Quite talented and sorely missed.

  5. HOBAC, they did do wonders for a skirt!

    Fay- I loved your post. It does seem those truly great ones genius is extolled after they are gone.

  6. Mark, he did achieve the perfect balance. It is always of interest to see or at least imagine some of where his genius came from.

    Belle- that word genius certainly does apply to him.

    Ace- Well said.



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