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ALEXANDER MCQUEEN UNLOCKING STORIES | TAILORING AND SOHO

The high-life and low-life of London’s Soho have been a magnet for artists, actors, writers and aristocrats for generations. This collection goes back to look at the male characters of mid-twentieth century Soho, whose lives were portrayed by the painter and photographer John Deakin.

Deakin (1912—1972) was a member of the bohemian circle which included Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud in the Fifties. In a special collaboration with @TheJohnDeakinArchive, the Spring/Summer 2019 menswear collection was an homage to the legacy of Deakin portraiture and photographs of graffiti shot on the streets of Paris and Rome.

The narrow, single-breasted men’s evening coat is a characteristic Alexander McQueen clashing of symbols, bringing together the photography of roughly drawn graffiti chalked on the street together with the painstakingly-detailed skills of hand-embroidery.
The intensive process of creating the final embroidery began with a digital scan of John Deakin’s original photograph. The base fabric was developed first with artwork digitally engineered and mapped onto individual tailoring pattern pieces. To create the effect of the chalked graffiti the embroidery team mapped out the design on tulle which was overlaid onto the base fabric.

When the final pattern was decided, a life-size paper maquette of the coat was created so the team could assess how to balance the embroidery design on the proportions of the tailored coat. Meanwhile, swatches of silver beads, metallic threads and hammered ‘mercury’ bullion embroidery were draped on a coat.