Nick Waplington/Alexander McQueen: Working Process at Tate Britain
This year’s Tate Britain spring photography collection is a very special one in many ways. Not only does it present a unique collaboration between the artist Nick Waplington and the acclaimed fashion designed Alexander McQueen, it also features photographs taken from McQueen’s last ever show, including never-before-seen images. Working Process is also the very first major exhibition at Tate Britain that features a living British photographer.
Back in 2007, McQueen insisted that none other than Waplington should make a photobook about his working process: a document of his 2009 autumn/winter collection from its inception to the actual show in Paris months later. He wanted to create an unusual photobook totally unlike other books that dealt with fashion. In this collaboration, the duo took the book beyond fashion and onto the conceptual landscape. In order to do so, McQueen gave Waplington unlimited access to his working process – the whole creative journey as he prepared and presented his final collection. The Horn of Plenty can be traced in those photographs.
What makes Working Process great is that, apart from the photos taken before and during the fashion show, there are also images focusing on recycling and rubbish. This brilliant juxtaposition proves perfect in this display of McQueen’s work as he was constantly recycling, reusing fabrics, patterns, silhouettes and material, and his last collection was no exception. The Horn of Plenty was a provocative show retrospective to the designer’s career, going far beyond his designs: McQueen even used broken mirrors and discarded elements from the previous shows for his catwalk.
His clothes, however, have nothing sustainable about them. That is, even though they were supposed to represent recycled goods, they were made of the finest silks, every bit as high end as couture can be. Waplington manages to capture this irony perfectly, further developing McQueen’s vision on finite resources and the need of realignment.
Working Process pays homage to one of the greatest designers of our time by showcasing one of his most intimate moments: the creative process of what happened to be his last ever collection. Waplington was there, photographing it all, and it is now through his brilliant work that the public can experience the show, too. Maybe not the one on the Parisian catwalk, but the show that McQueen wanted to share.
Nick Waplington/Alexander McQueen: Working Process is at Tate Britain until 17th May 2015, for further information visit here.