Artwork of the Week: The Horn of Plenty

 

The Art: The Horn of Plenty: Everything but the Kitchen Sink
The Artist: Alexander McQueen

About the Artwork: Autumn, 2009. The Global Financial Crisis shows no sign of slowing down as the woes of the private sector begin to ebb into the public sector. The economic recovery promised has failed to materialise, and families all around the world are struggling to survive.

Meanwhile, the fashion industry, and the opulent elements associated with it, remain as lavish and excessive as ever.

To revered fashion designer Alexander McQueen, this was inexcusable.

In what would be his final autumn/winter collection before his suicide in February 2010, McQueen delivered a heavy-hitting, scathing assault on the industry, taking his skill for making ugliness a thing of beauty to a whole new level. Reflecting on 15 years of fashion in just under 15 minutes, The Horn of Plenty featured theatrical models, their mouths smeared with lipstick, and garbage bags adorning their heads as they strutted around a pile of junk. It was wild, potent, and according to Vogue, sparked fierce arguments between members of the audience.

Exactly what McQueen had hoped for.

“It’s a sackable offence, this collection,” he announced one month before its unveiling. “It’s not safe in any way. It’s a punked-up McQueen It girl parody of a certain ideal, of a woman who never existed in the first place. It’s Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It’s Dior. It’s Valentino’s ladies who lunch… I want people to look at it and say, ‘What’s that? What’s that? What’s that? What’s that? What the hell is that?’”

Some called it perverse and obtuse. Others misogynistic. But the majority agreed that with The Horn of Plenty, McQueen had delivered one of the most outstanding catwalks of all time; a brilliant mix of art, showmanship, and cultural critique that further cemented him as an eternal industry icon.

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