This thesis examines the relationship between art and fashion in order to first, justify fashion as an art form, and second, demonstrate the applicability of critical theory to the study of fashion through an examination of Alexander McQueen's Spring/Summer 2006 menswear collection, titled “Killa,” presented in Milan, Italy, in 2005. “Killa,” loosely based on William Golding's 1954 novel Lord of the Flies and its 1963 film adaptation, opens with crisp, white, tailored suits worn by neatly groomed models. Steadily throughout the collection, these tailored suits are exchanged for wide-legged, cropped shorts, and tanks in browns and beiges. By the end, models appear on the runway with painted faces, wild hair, and highly patterned, dark-colored body suits and billowing capes. While “Killa” appears to demonstrate the narrative regression from civilized to savage demonstrated in Golding's novel, this thesis argues that McQueen's collection actually strives to promote a more positive ennobling of the Other. A careful study of his life and career suggests that McQueen perceived himself as the Other within the community in which he worked and lived. Frustrated by frequent misinterpretations of his work and false accusations of his character, “Killa” becomes McQueen's ultimate confrontation with Otherness. Positioning the Other at the climax of an elite fashion show, represented by Mesoamerican designs depicted through the highest quality tailoring, McQueen's Other is respected and revered, rather than looked down upon. In this way, McQueen challenges the perception of his own character within the fashion community. Ultimately this thesis seeks to demonstrate the necessity of the application of critical theory to objects of fashion. As demonstrated through the case study of McQueen's 2006 menswear collection, this academic consideration has the potential to reveal important overlooked meanings within the art of fashion. This suggests that McQueen's work, as well as the work of other contemporary fashion designers, merits more thoughtful and careful interpretation in the study of postmodern art history.
College and Department
Humanities; Comparative Arts and Letters
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Rowe, Keri, "Elevating the Other: A Theoretical Approach to Alexander McQueen" (2015). All Theses and Dissertations. 4394.
Lee Alexander McQueen, Killa, menswear, fashion, fashion as art, subaltern, Other, post-colonialism