Warpaint: Alexander McQueen and Make-Up


Look from the Voss (SS01) collection by Val Garland. Photo by Anthea Simms. The pale stony faces of the models’ of McQueen’s Plato’s Atlantis collection (SS10), the slight sheen and sculpted cheekbones recalling siren women; the ‘owl women’, their faces painted with feathers, of La Dame Bleue (SS08):  Alexander McQueen’s staggering catwalk shows were a dream-come-true for a make-up artist with imagination.

Warpaint: Alexander McQueen and Make-Up is the first ever exhibition to explore McQueen’s catwalk make-up. Coinciding with Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the V&A, this satellite exhibition aims to unravel the process and inspirations behind the collections by examining key beauty looks developed by McQueen’s most trusted make-up artists.

McQueen worked closely with artists such as Val Garland, Peter Philips, Topolino and Sharon Dowsett. ‘It all came from him, his point of view,’ says Garland. ‘It had to be absolutely specific. He knew when it was just right, when it came as near as possible to his own vision of the look. There was no right or wrong, just his vision.'

The exhibition gives insight into the devices and techniques these artists used to realise McQueen’s unique vision. Twenty two looks from 13 collections including La Poupée (S/S 1997) and Plato’s Atlantis (S/S 2010) are on display, grouped into three central themes: Amplified, where facial features are obscured and exaggerated; Deviated, where make-up covers other parts of the body; and Stripped, subtle looks that intensify meaning.

The looks are showcased on silicone masks, created with LCF BA Hair, Make-Up and Prosthetics for Performance students.

Looks often 'evolved' during shows,  the duration of McQueen shows, such as Untitled (SS 1998) and What A Merry Go Round (AW 2001). A 3D installation reimagines these moments, illustrating the transformation of runway models. In an interactive feature to the exhibition, visitors can 'try on'  make-up looks, through a specially created app, ‘FACE’.

Till August 7, 2015. Fashion Space Gallery, London College of Fashion, 20 John Prince’s Street, London, W1G 0BJ. www.fashionspacegallery.com #McQueenWarpaint

Look from La Dame Bleue (SS08) by Peter Philips. Photo by Anthea Simms.

Look from Plato's Atlantis (SS10) by Peter Phillips. Photo by Anthea Simms.

Look from La Poupee (SS1997) by Topolino. Photo by Anthea Simms.