Alexander McQueen (British, 1969–2010)
The Horn of Plenty, autumn/winter 2009–10
Black duck feathers
Courtesy of Alexander McQueen
Photograph © Sølve Sundsbø / Art + Commerce

Andrew Bolton: One of the most compelling items in this particular gallery is an ensemble that’s made out of duck feathers dyed black, which gives the impression of a raven. A raven was a Romantic symbol of death. It’s an item that’s very melancholic but also very romantic at the same time. It came from a collection called The Horn of Plenty. And The Horn of Plenty was a collection that was very much inspired by the 1950s haute couture. And you even see the silhouette here; you see the very nipped-in waist, the huge shoulders. McQueen loved a very hard shoulder and a very small waist. So even in this particular garment—even though it seems so extreme—he’s still referencing 1950s couture. He’s still playing with the proportions that he loved so much.

And feathers play such an important role in McQueen’s work. He loved birds. And feathers was a material that he would revisit again and again in his work.

In McQueen’s Words

“It is important to look at death because it is a part of life. It is a sad thing, melancholy but romantic at the same time. It is the end of a cycle—everything has to end. The cycle of life is positive because it gives room for new things.”

Drapers, February 20, 2010

Rest in peace, McQueen.