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A Closer Look: The Making of an Upcycled Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 Runway Gown

See how Look 33 — with its Fall 2017 lichen lace and reworked cotton tulle and washed-silk organza — was created.
Look 33 on the Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 runway.

Look 33 on the Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 runway.

For Alexander McQueen's Spring 2020 collection, creative director Sarah Burton really focused on the details. She wrote in the show notes: "Each look tells its own story. The connection between the clothes is the time it took to make them. I was interested in clarity and paring things down, in the essence of garments — stripping back to the toile. I love the idea of people having the time to make things together, the time to meet and talk together, the time to reconnect with the world." 

Craftsmanship, of course, is core to the house of McQueen, both in its practice and its storytelling. (Its most recent runway showing, for Fall 2020, was inspired by the folklore and artistic traditions of Wales.) Many of the pieces that make their way down the brand's runway demand a second, third, fourth look, to really understand the level of detail that went into them. 

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So, with its Spring 2020 collection just out, Alexander McQueen gave Fashionista a behind-the-scenes peek at the making of Look 33, first seen on the runway in September 2019 during Paris Fashion Week. It's particularly noteworthy for its use of upcycled fabrics, from jacquards to silks to laces, plucked from the brand's archives. 

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In total, the brand says that Look 33 is made from a total 80 meters of lace and tulle. The lichen lace is actually from another runway collection, Fall 2017; the fine cotton tulle and washed-silk organza, meanwhile were pulled from stock the house had in its atelier. (The brand says that all materials it uses, whether they're from research trips or from actual collections, is archived, so it's able to revisit and repurpose them in a variety of ways.) 

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Those fabrics were used to create the oyster-frill ruffles that decorate the shoulders and skirt of the dress, made from 3,000 hand-cut circles. 

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In addition to Look 33, Looks 40 and 41 from Alexander McQueen's Spring 2020 runway collection also incorporated upcycled materials, the brand confirmed. 

Earlier this year, Alexander McQueen announced an initiative where it donated some of its surplus fabrics to fashion colleges in the U.K. for students to use in their collections, a continuation of the educational programs that Burton has introduced (which includes the opening of a collaborative space on the top floor of the brand's 27 Bond Street store in London). 

"The ethos at Alexander McQueen means that everything we use in researching and designing collections has always been archived and stored," Burton said in a statement when the initiative was announced back in February. "We've never thrown anything away." 

You can see and shop pieces from Alexander McQueen's Spring 2020 runway collection on the brand's website

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