How Designers Design: Nick Waplington Captures McQueen

With Alexander McQueen’s exhibition “Savage Beauty” now on show at the V&A Museum in London, there is a growing necessity to uncover the late designer’s creative process. Who could better capture the frenzy of a genius at work, than a relentless photographer following every move and recording even the tiniest, perhaps insignificant details for posterity? This was precisely the spirit with which the photographer Nick Waplington approached Alexander McQueen, taking a rich and revealing series of photographs while her was working on what would be his last collection, The Horn of Plenty, in 2009.

Waplington was given unprecedented access to McQueen’s studio, and captured an intense and theatrical working process, from sketching to production to the Paris catwalk show. McQueen conceived The Horn of Plenty collection as an iconoclastic retrospective of his career in fashion, reusing silhouettes and fabrics from his earlier collections, and creating a catwalk set out of broken mirrors and discarded elements from the sets of his past shows. This radical theme provided inspiration for Waplington, best known for his photographic work centred on issues of class, identity and conflict. Their artistic collaboration reveals a raw and unpolished side of the fashion world, juxtaposing candid images of McQueen’s working process with rigorously produced photographs of landfill sites and recycling plants, to create a powerful commentary on destruction and creative renewal.

The photobook that resulted from this collaboration is unlike anything of its kind. The book Waplington and McQueen worked on together, as well as a large maquette of the book, which they shared as they edited the work, is now on display together with a selection of around 100 large and small scale photographs at Tate Britain in London, within the exhibition “Nick Waplington/Alexander McQueen: Working Process”, running through May 17th 2015.

The Blogazine – Images courtesy of Nick Waplington and Tate Britain