Summer days were hot last year. Nobody loved the scorching sun in July: under the midday light, it was hard to walk, hard to think, hard to talk. I stayed in plenty of afternoons, for the first time discouraged by the overly warm rays that shone on the buildings. During these idle hours, I turned to books: I was interested in biographies at the time – I still am – and I found myself knee-deep in the page-turning lives of rock legends, poets and designers alike. It was then that the meticulous words of Dana Thomas, author of “Gods and Kings: The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano” welcomed me to the enthralling and sublime labyrinth that is McQueen’s work, his mind so ferociously inventive that it could rarely be given a fair depiction.
Approaching his body of work, celebrated and acclaimed for its unique synthesis of past references that ruthlessly reflected modern times, means coming in contact with distinctive silhouettes, sharp cuts and an impeccably brilliant execution that can be admired short after a first glance. In my mind, a perfect medley of all of these qualities was first epitomized when I was introduced to the Bumsters, a pair of pants designed to sit carefully low on the hips in order to slily reveal the buttocks. The fine edges of the silhouette exude a covert sensuality but, when worn, the allure of the garment becomes unrestrained, its attitude relentless, the woman fierce; it’s debauchery and mischief, sex and dare in a piece of clothing. I couldn’t resist the magnetic draw they had.
“It was an art thing, to change the way women looked, just by cut, to make a longer torso. But I was taking it to an extreme. The girls looked quite menacing, because there was so much top and so little bottom, because of the length of the legs.” – Alexander McQueen
For me, though, the shock and fascination came nearly thirty years late: first appeared in the Taxi Driver AW 93/94 fashion show, McQueen’s first after graduating, the then considered outrageous pants were a result of the desire to elongate the torso and highlight a frequently overlooked but sensual part of the body. Indeed, the designer himself is quoted stating in “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” that “[With the ‘bumsters’] I wanted to elongate the body, not just show the bum. To me, that part of the body- not so much the buttocks, but the bottom of the spine- that’s the most erotic part of anyone’s body, man or woman”. The bumsters also defined some of the following collections among his early work: in Nihilism (SS94), Banshee (AW 94/95) and The Birds (SS95) the elaborate catwalks were graced by daring looks and beguiling women who boldly strutted wearing the garment. In the aforementioned volume, McQueen says that “It was an art thing, to change the way women looked, just by cut, to make a longer torso. But I was taking it to an extreme. The girls looked quite menacing, because there was so much top and so little bottom, because of the length of the legs.”