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Killer McQueen: Alexander McQueen's Use of Horror in Fashion

The late Alexander McQueen often took inspiration from horror. From the restyling of the horror classics The Shining (1980) and The Birds (1963), to the utilisation of the Carrie (1976) aesthetic, McQueen’s use of horror only enhanced his macabre experimentation. Here, we detail some of our favourite horror-inspired looks by Alexander McQueen.

The Shining — Fall 1999

In 1999, the Fall collection was an interpretation of the 1980 horror classic, The Shining, where the runway was decorated to mimic the snow outside of the film’s Overlook Hotel. Interestingly, the collection begins with blacks and muted coloured fabrics, and descends into white. This could be a reference to the antagonist Jack, who slowly descends into madness as he becomes possessed by the hotel, and is finally found frozen to death in the hotel’s maze. Some of the looks utilised silver metallic fabrics, which created the image of frozen garments.

A particular favourite look of mine consists of two models dressed like twins, referring to the Grady twins haunting the hotel. McQueen has designed an updated schoolgirl outfit for the two, however the grayscale look alongside the orange yarn wigs creates an unsettling image.

The Birds — Spring 1995

McQueen’s Spring 1995 collection sought inspiration from the Alfred Hitchcock film The Birds. Avian prints were used to honour the film, alongside the use of feathers throughout the collection. Some outfits, like look 12, imagined the horror of being attacked by birds, with the use of tyre tracks over the model’s skin. McQueen translated the film’s terror into the fashion world.

Carrie — Fall 1998

Titled ‘Joan’ after Joan of Arc, McQueen's Fall 1998 collection was not necessarily inspired by the 1976 film Carrie, but there are clear connotations. Most notably this is seen in the final look, where the dress is draped to look like dripping blood, and the model is surrounded by a ring of fire, two major motifs from the end of Carrie.

Alongside this, the collection overall screams vampiric royalty. With the dark fabrics — especially black and blood red — and the red contacts worn by the models, McQueen invokes vampiric imagery through the collection.

All pictures found on Vogue Runway.

Written and edited by Lucy Eaton


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