Sunday, 24 November 2013

THE GOLDEN SHOWER

Generating controversy before it even took place, McQueen’s S/S 1998 collection ‘Untitled’ (previously entitled ‘The Golden Shower’ until a financial backer threatened to pull out - see the full show here) was shown in a London bus depot and featured then-rookie models such as Jodie Kidd and Kate. The show has since become one of his most celebrated, mainly for its balance of commercial appeal and grandiose spectacle but also for launching the career of ‘The Body’ herself, Gisele.

Gisele, The Golden Shower.
The show opened in traditional fashion with a series of beautifully-tailored trousers and suit jackets which nipped in at the waist and curved around the chest. It was here that the McQueen established one of the main colour themes of the collection – yellow and gold were both prominent throughout (a reference to the ‘Golden Shower’ title), most notably in a series of gold chain halter tops that more closely resembled body jewellery than an actual garment. There was also experimentation with animal print (one which McQueen had tackled in his previous collection) in the form of a snakeskin pencil skirt made from what appeared to be PVC, a piece which was surprisingly wearable when teamed with a black pinstripe suit jacket that jutted open at the back.

Kate Moss
Linen suits were shown for both men and women in a series of colours from yellow through to khaki and often embedded with a strip of sheer material that left the collarbone exposed. Laser-cut leather was another highlight of the show’s first half – one particularly beautiful look consisted of a dress with a draped skirt made from perforated leather that elegantly wrapped itself around a bodice made from sheer chiffon. The front of the skirt showed leather that was cut into a starburst motif and the perforations of the leather meant that the whole look left little to the imagination – the glimpses of skin provided the eroticism for which McQueen has become renowned.

The male models in the show also played a larger part than usual, especially in the sense that they were used to reverse social norms. McQueen deliberately chose muscular, ripped models but instead of playing on their masculinity and exaggerating their sex appeal, he chose to send them all down the runway with painted toenails and heeled open-toe sandals; a detail which lent an air of androgyny to every ensemble. The menswear itself also followed the theme of the collection – examples included sheer wide-leg trousers, a bondage leather waistcoat and some beautiful silver facial jewellery which saw sharp jawlines partially masked by intricate metal mouthpieces.


'Crow' headpiece
Halfway through the show, the element of theatrics was (as usual) introduced as the runway cleared, the lights dimmed and the perspex flooring panels slowed flooded with black liquid. The soundtrack wavered between Missy Elliot’s ‘The Rain’ and the ‘Jaws’ theme tune, creating an air of suspense which climaxed in torrential rain pouring from ceiling. From then onwards the colour palette turned exclusively to white, resulting in models walking the runway in sodden clothes which became see-through as they clung, sodden, to every curve. The clothes themselves were extremely tight-fitting and emphasised the silhouette of the ‘McQueen woman’ as we know it – one of the most memorable looks of the show saw Gisele walking the catwalk in a white leather bodice which was molded exactly to the shape of her chest, highlighting McQueen’s obsession with the female form.


Gisele, in McQueen's molded leather bodice

His taste for the macabre also came through in the form of a metal ribcage corset cast from an actual human skeleton – with a tail that jutted out sharply, the piece was extremely animalistic and was one of many hints at McQueen’s fascination with the anatomy of both humans and animals. His recurring interest in birds also featured in the form of a silver metal headpiece glided over the models nose, recreating the sharp beak of a crow.





Overall, the show was one of McQueen’s most impressive to date, especially in terms of providing memorable imagery. The variety of the collection was also incredible – with a show that spanned 30 minutes and over 100 looks, the designer showcased his ability to work with a number of materials and design both clothes for the runway and clothes for everyday life. By this point, McQueen had established himself as a force to be reckoned with, having secured financial backing from American Express – although it’s a shame that the collection was eventually retitled ‘Untitled’, the content of the show stayed true to McQueen’s provocative aesthetic. His androgynous menswear was also rapidly growing in popularity and the models that he worked with were quickly ascending the ranks to their affiliation with the British designer; the late 90s and early ’00s were, in essence, McQueen’s imperial phase, and this collection is the perfect example of the iconoclast on top form.



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