Love Looks Not with the Eyes

Anne Deniau, Deniau Anne

Love Looks Not with the Eyes
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Love Looks Not with the Eyes

Anne Deniau, Deniau Anne

Lee Alexander McQueen (1969-2010) is widely recognized as one of the leading fashion designers of his time, whose work combined aesthetic vision, emotional power, and extraordinary craft. He was especially known for staging provocative shows that were as much performances as venues to display his designs. Charged with energy, informed by history and culture, and filled with fresh concepts, they have become legends not only of fashion but also of art.

Shooting backstage, photographer Anne Deniau documented twenty-six of these shows, beginning in September 1997 and ending with the final one in October 2010. Working directly for McQueen, she produced a remarkable and previously unpublished photographic record that captures the intensity and immediacy of these events.

We see McQueen working with his close circle of collaborators–among them, designer Sarah Burton, milliner Philip Treacy, jewellery designer Shaun Leane, model Kate Moss. The meticulously produced spectacles that they created come back to life on the page in this inside look at the work of a great artist.

Review

If you are, or claim to be a fashionista of taste and style, and appreciate talent and genius, then I highly recommend you add this book to your collection.

Anne Deniau’s photographs of 13 years behind the scenes with Alexander McQueen are lovely, and the extra dimension and understanding that they add to McQueen’s designs, and his relationship to his work is beautiful.

The evocative images are captured with surprising tenderness (for the cut-throat world of haute-couture) and indicate a collaboration of inspiration and gratitude.

Much as I love the Metropolitan Museum of New York’s great catalogue, Alexander Mcqueen: Savage Beauty, (since I couldn’t make it to NY for the exhibition), it is all about the museum. Whereas Deniau’s book captures the idea of the living, breathing activity of the clothes and the models as they prepare for the cat-walk.

The book is divided into 3 sections – Egeria, Allegoria and Elegia. These are subdivided into different collections – which were mostly named to reflect the overall theme.

As the book speaks through images, it inspires to look up some of the references. So now I know that the extraordinary carved wooden boots in the collection known as #13, were designed for amputee Para Olympian Aimee Mullins – so she wouldn’t necessarily stand out from the other models in the show. Although I would call McQueen’s work art, I hadn’t realized that he had been inspiredby individual artists such as Rebecca Horn.

I found lots of fascinating bits and pieces, like the model’s experiences and anecdotes about wearing the clothes, specific pieces and collections, on the Met’s blog re Savage Beauty.

Every now and then a couturier truly makes art and I consider Alexander McQueen to have been a great artist. Dior is also on my list and it makes perfect sense that Dior was one of McQueens inspirations. The photographs in this book give a glimpse into that world.

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