Friday, March 13, 2009

Black and White and Red All Over- Magpie McQueen

What is black and white and red all over?

The Fall, 2009 collection by Alexander McQueen.

The graphic, geometric and amazing collection features some gorgeous fabric with Escher-like patterns reminiscent of prints like M.C. Escher's 'Liberation':
liberation -M.C. Escher
or his various 'Metamorphosis' prints, like this 'Metamorphosis II':

Amongst other things, McQueen presented tessellations of houndstooth devolving into magpies in red (rather than the traditional white) and black...

...and some spectacular, if perhaps, somewhat specialized hat (great for bee-keeping in couture or being hands-free in a rainstorm) :


I love how that final gown reminds me of Haida and other Pacific northwest native artwork. Here is an example of an artifact with their traditional graphic designs:

Haida carved and painted,
red cedar, bentwood box.
Photo: Canadian Museum
of Civilization
VII-C-109 [via the Virtual Museum Canada]

Here are a sample of two serigraphs from modern Haida artists who have adapted traditional design to modern printmaking:

Raven releasing the sun - by Baker
"Raven Releasing the Sun" by Todd Jason Baker
{Raven, the trickster, is related to other Corvidea like magpies and whiskeyjacks.}

Grizzly Bear - Bill Reid
"Xhuwaji / Haida Grizzly Bear" by the incomparable, late Bill Reid

I think McQueen is quite the magpie, taking inspiration where he finds it! When I look at this I see tribute or parody of mensware and the haberdashery, M.C. Escher, Haida design, basket-weaving, Mod, S&M, sci-fi, history of fashion, snakes, birds, animal skins, lampshades, harlequins and clowns.

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