Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Alexander McQueen Meets Elvis

As posthumous party guests, these two would definitely be on my list!  I partied with both of them last weekend, but one was in the form of a dress and the other a cover band lookalike, and what a great party it was!  My lovely friend was celebrating his 40th and we marked the occasion in style by dancing and rocking along to Elvis with his family, his amazing wife and fabulous friends.  The dress I wore is silver grey and black silk and is by Alexander McQueen, simple but beautifully shaped and with an interesting, asymmetric fishtail detail at the side.  Like many of the McQueen designs, it's uniqueness is in the way it is cut and this is what brings the dress to life when on the body. 

I put it together with sparkling silver greys in the form of a spiked and studded necklace from New Look and matching suede clutch.

The metallic, bow shaped clutch bag was found in a charity bargain bin where everything was £1, raided by me last week (along with my blogged Festival 8 attire!).  It has no label, but was a great find, being a lovely soft, silver-on-black suede, nestling among the plastic 'pleather' bags.  I added a bit of drama with tangerine coloured shoes from Office and nails in Rimmel 060 Hot & Spicy.  The spiked black bangle is from Topshop.  The black biker jacket is from Reiss.

So this dress has a back story (don't they all!) and was a completely accidental and unintentional purchase until fate stepped in.  That's my explanation anyway and if anyone asks, I'm sticking to it.  

The story is, I went to see the McQueen show 'Savage Beauty' recently at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and Wow! What an exhibition.  There are lots of reviews on the web about the show and if you want a really good idea of what it looks like go here for Tinie Tempah's brilliant private view tour on iplayer (he might be another guest on my party list by the way ... swoon!).  Tinie is well known as a sharp dresser and all round stylish dude of course, but he's also the British Fashion Council's ambassador for menswear and therefore also knows his onions about British fashion design icons.  Anyway, to cut to the chase the show blew my mind and I honestly felt as though my brain couldn't take in the level of detail, design, creativity and daring that McQueen put into his creations, increasing with each collection as they unfolded over the years.  It was poignant and sad and a little bit haunting, but at the same time an unashamed and dazzling celebration of a life full of vitality and genius.  I felt as I walked around that I couldn't open my eyes wide enough, couldn't stare long enough, couldn't capture the dazzling exhibits in my mind's eye vividly enough.  

My friend Nat would say that clothes are like people, they have their own experiences and memories and they are imbued with auras and evoke feelings independent of the wearer.  I agree with her and often when wearing a garment or outfit, I am reminded of past experiences when I was wearing the same thing.  Mostly these are good memories and feelings of happy times (though not always - Paul Smith sheath dress I'm looking at you! A story for another day, I think.  Prosecco may have been involved, enough said).  For me clothes evoke memory as vividly as scent or perfume and when a piece of clothing has an association with a special event or a memorable day or person, that feeling stays in the very warp and weft of the cloth somehow.  I wondered as I looked around some of the McQueen collection about the hours of concentration, dedication and frustration that may have shaped and created them.  Where those finished dresses and coats had been in their lives, who had worn them and what parties and backstage dramas they had taken part in.   

I stayed at the show for quite a long time, partly because of the sheer volume of people making their way around as they sketched, studied and stared, but also partly because I too wanted to pore over every hem and seam and cutting line.  There was also sculptured body jewellery, incredible hats, shoes and other fantastical accessories. As a result by the time I came out, with my head full of glitter and glamour, and headed for the tube station to make my way home, I realised I needed the loo quite urgently.  Damn!  Should have gone to the V&A ones.  Never mind, I thought, here is Harrods right here and it's sure to have toilets I can nip into quickly.  Much relieved, I made my way back through the maze of departments towards the escalators and I notice that I've walked slap bang into the middle of the Alexander McQueen  collection and, there in front of me is a solitary sale rail.  Now in my defence (honest m'lud!) I had NO idea that Harrods sale was in full flow, nor did I have any knowledge of where the McQueen section was, but there was absolutely NO WAY I was going to walk past that rail. One solitary dress left in my size.  An 80% reduction on the price tag (what?!)  It fitted like a glove.  I also had the birthday party invitation in the back of my mind and a perfect opportunity to dress up.

The rest, as they say, is history.  Serendipity?  Perhaps.  A twist of fate?  Surely.  

So it's Happy Birthday to you Woody!  Some fabulous memories of a fun night with you and Elvis, some slightly blurrier than others!

One amazing show, and one rocking night with gorgeous friends, together make all the right ingredients I need for a dress to remember.

Dress in silver and black silk by Alexander McQueen
Metallic suede clutch, unnamed from charity shop
Suede shoes in tangerine from Office
Necklace in pewter with spikes and studs from New Look
Spiked black bangle by Topshop
Leather biker jacket by Reiss

Savage Beauty is at the V&A London until 2 August 2015.  Iplayer private view is available from March 2015 for 7 months.


  1. So you just happen to be passing Harrods and go to the loo, just happen to pass thro' the dress dept, just happen to see an Alexander McQueen sale rail and there just happens to be the most glamorous dress in your size - dramatically reduced in price - if that's not serendipity I don't know what is! You look amazing in it. Can I come shopping with you next time???? AWR

  2. Thank you! I can't believe how lucky I was either. Yes you can come shopping with me any time! Sarah x