British photographer Robert Fairer shot up to 100 fashion shows per season for almost 20 years – and for ten of those years he worked exclusively for American Vogue. To call his archive comprehensive would be an understatement: he was one of the first photographers to go backstage at fashion shows at a time when Instagram, iPhone and social media hadn’t even been invented. Which is how he managed to capture unique portraits and images that established his very own genre, revealing a glimpse of the characters who work behind the scenes of the hectic world of fashion.
The elaborately designed picture book Alexander McQueen: Unseen zooms into the creative work of the exceptional British designer and illustrates once again just how unusually inspired and revolutionary his designs were. This voyeuristic peek backstage that we all want to experience is thanks to the unerring eye of the photographer, who captured down-to-earth moments in the tense pre-show atmosphere, and shows one thing above all: that what takes place is often almost inexplicable – even for the protagonists involved. Moments when – as if controlled like puppets on a string – figures change from one outfit into the next and march out onto the stage, the catwalk, creating a wealth of unforgettable memories for the audience.
Alexander McQueen: Unseen follows the designer’s career, his loyalty to his own work and his colleagues from the 1990s to his last collection, “Plato’s Atlantis”. Often spotted at Alexander McQueen’s side: his ally Sarah Burton, who now keeps the label alive as its creative director; Philip Treacy and his hat creations; and Schaun Leane, whose jewellery, armour and facial expressions often formed a humorous counterpoint to McQueen’s romantic creations.
Alexander McQueen: Unseen
With texts by Sally Singer and Claire Wilcox.
Thames & Hudson, 2016.
352 pages, 376 colour illustrations, £48.