Alexander McQueen: The Givenchy Years

In 1996, Alexander McQueen was appointed as the creative director of Givenchy, succeeding John Galliano. McQueen stayed at Givenchy (designing both mainline and haute couture collections) until March 2011, when his contact ended. He noted during his time that being at Givenchy was "constraining his creativity", yet some of his most awe-inspiring work was with the fashion house. It was with Givenchy that he enlisted amputee model Aimee Mullins to take to the catwalk on carved wooden legs. He melded his usual fantastical yet dark vision with Givenchy's lavishness, creating a gold-gilded presentation often with theatrical elements.

At one haute couture showing, Naomi Campbell, surrounded by fully-grown cherubs and Roman pillars, stormed down the catwalk with those unforgettable gold horns wrapped around her head, her lips pursed with attitude, and later reappearing with her body strapped into a gold bustier worn over a fitted, draped white dress with one strap slung over her shoulder.

His inspiration came as far flung as Japan, but nothing was as unfamiliar or eerie as how he threaded each of his influences together. From the corners of his boundless imagination came ladies of the Highlands, jesters, brides, Asian princesses, Amazonian warriors and those who didn't fit - the imagined alien sci-fi women which came crashing into reality, often via some other period - a true melting pot. McQueen regularly weaved his own stories to fit with his shows, often taking his ideas from dreams, as well as historical periods and cultures that he found inspiring.

With horses, angels and an assortment of characters, McQueen's Givenchy shows told a story so well written and costumed, it was a living, moving work of art - a performance - that fused the beauty and bewilderment of each of his designs with a telling of their own tale - acting, dancing and more, which was also seen during his own Alexander McQueen shows. Below are some photos from his time at Givenchy, including several haute couture designs.

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