Coat, Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims (MA Graduation Collection), 1992

Alexander McQueen (British, 1969–2010)
Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims (MA Graduation Collection), 1992
Pink silk satin printed in thorn pattern lined in white silk with encapsulated human hair
From the collection of Isabella Blow courtesy of the Hon. Daphne Guinness
Photograph © Sølve Sundsbø / Art + Commerce

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Andrew Bolton: McQueen made this frock coat for his 1992 graduation collection, which he called Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims. The collection’s title reveals his fascination with the Victorian culture. It also established his distinctly narrative, autobiographical approach to design. One of McQueen’s relatives owned an inn that housed a victim of Jack the Ripper. Here we have Louise Wilson, who was McQueen’s teacher at Central Saint Martins:

Louise Wilson: Well, he always had a story to tell. For instance, they had to do something called a marketing report, which was basically setting their collection in context. And even then, Lee’s report was on genealogy—Jack the Ripper—and quite in-depth. So it was telling the story of his collection even at that stage. You know, it was really, really personal to him. It was linked to his mother; it was linked to her interest in genealogy. Unfortunately, the market report was stolen out of my office, possibly by Lee.

Andrew Bolton: McQueen was a brilliant storyteller, and he began each collection by developing a story that would guide the design of the clothes.

In McQueen’s Words

“The inspiration behind the hair came from Victorian times when prostitutes would sell theirs for kits of hair locks, which were bought by people to give to their lovers. I used it as my signature label with locks of hair in Perspex. In the early collections, it was my own hair.”

Time Out (London), September 24–October 1, 1997