Last week, Alexander McQueen announced (via his new favourite medium: Twitter) that he will be collaborating with SHOWstudio to stream his Spring 2010 show live online. The show is happening at 7.15 tonight! But, naturally Grazia couldn’t wait to hear all the details, so we contacted SHOWstudio’s owner, photographer Nick Knight to find out all about, ‘Lee’, the shows, and the future of fashion…
1. So you will be collaborating with Alexander McQueen on his catwalk show? Obviously you and he have been partners in crime for many years but how did this particular collaboration come about? And what will you be adding to the mix?
I used to see Alexander McQueen clothes on the rails way back in the 90’s when he started, the stylists would love them and it was clear they were something unique and very special. The first project we collaborated on was for a series of large images for the Venice Biennale. One of these images was a very detailed shot of Lee’s head exploding. I think he felt it summed up how he felt at the time. I like to think I bring light into his darkness and he brings depth to my vision.
2. We were talking about McQueen’s early shows the other day, how atmospheric and heart-thumpingly sinister they were. Were you at any of them? And which was your favourite?
Yes, I was at the early ones. My favourite, simply because it was so clever, was the mirror box show. He put all the models inside a huge mirrored cube. Before the show all the lights were on in the auditorium and the cube was a huge mirror reflecting the audience. The shows are always about 45 minutes late to start, and I remember I was on the front row between Alexandra Shulman and Gwyneth Paltrow, so if you looked up you stared at your own reflection, if you looked sideways you stared at your neighbour, so after a short time you ended up staring at your feet. Lee had managed by the use of this simple trick to have the whole of the front row, some of the most important people in fashion all sitting, heads bowed, humbled. Once the show started, the house lights went down, and the audience were released from this. And then it was the models inside the mirrored box who could see only their own reflections. Voyeurism was swapped to vanity.
3. Tell us about the many catwalk presentations you have worked on before?
SHOWstudio has worked with YSL, Hussein Chalayan, John Galliano, Bernard Wilhelm and Gareth Pugh on film presentations and live broadcasts. All very different from each other. There are so many exciting new ways to show fashion, we are really just seeing the tip of the iceberg.
4.McQueen's shows have often been described as theatre. What have these spectaculars contributed to the world of fashion?
His shows are some of the finest examples of contemporary fashion theatre. This is real spectacle and he has really invented a new genre of entertainment.
5. SHOWstudio is so far ahead of the fashion industry in terms of web-based content that you’re practically a dot on the horizon. How did you realise so early on that this was the future for fashion? And why is the fashion industry so afraid of technology?
It seemed obvious even back in the mid nineties that fashion film was a way of showing clothes. One early thought, pre internet, was to send out a VHS every month instead of starting a magazine, but then the internet happened and the correct medium for fashion film was born. Designers create clothes to be seen in movement so it could be said that any still representation of a garment is to some degree a compromise of the designer’s original vision.
6. How do moving images benefit fashion photography? Do you see yourself as a film director now? And might you follow Tom Ford and direct a feature film?
I have never desired to define who I am by using the name of one particular medium. It is limiting and not a very accurate reflection of how I see life.
Yes, I have been offered a feature film, but the script is exceedingly violent and the time I would have to commit to the project is considerable. So it needs some careful consideration before I am sure I can do the best job possible. However it is a really exciting project personally and I would love to find a way to make it happen.
7. What’s your pet hate about fashion on the web?
[Fashion] loses all the carefully-created brand values, by splattering the content with badly placed and inappropriate advertising.
8. Will the web kill off fashion shows? Can we expect the show season to slowly evolve into a film festival?
There is definitely a strong possibility of that. The recent financial crash has forced big business to consider alternatives to conventional fashion presentation and advertising. This started as an artistic movement but now it has the backing of big business so that will accelerate its development incredibly.
9. Grazia Daily had a lot of fun reviewing the live reviews of the Burberry show this season. Do you think people commenting on fashion shows live as they happen is the future of show reporting? Is high fashion open to that kind of democracy?
Fashion at the moment is presented as if it is trade shows. It completely ignores the fact that there is a global audience of millions out there desperate to see great fashion.
Sport has realized to get to a wider audience it has to entertain and explain what it is about. Fashion hasn't learnt that yet. Let’s not forget it was only 40 years or so ago that pret a porter was invented by Yves Saint Laurent, and that was a revolutionary democratization of fashion. This is another great step in that direction.
10. Are you brilliantly techno-savvy in all areas of your life or do you struggle to programme the defrost function on the microwave like the rest of us?
Technology is just a means to an ends. I only know what I need to know, so the answer is no, I can't set the defrost function.
11. Can you give us any hints or riddles as to what we can expect on Tuesday night?
Something deep and emotional and beautiful.
12. What would be your ultimate dream project? And what will you be working on once the shows are over?
The next project is always my favourite one.
Alexander McQueen’s Spring 2010 catwalk show can be watched live at 19.15pm GMT on www.alexandermcqueenlive.showstudio.com