Ensemble, It’s Only a Game, spring/summer 2005

Alexander McQueen (British, 1969–2010)
It’s Only a Game, spring/summer 2005
Dress and obi-style sash of lilac and silver brocade; jacket of lilac silk faille embroidered with silk thread; top of nude synthetic net embroidered with silk thread
Dress courtesy of Alexander McQueen
Photograph © Sølve Sundsbø / Art + Commerce

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Andrew Bolton: McQueen designed the 2005 collection It’s Only a Game around the idea of a chess match between America and Japan. Each ensemble corresponded to a particular chess piece.

The queen wears a short, thigh-high dress, which is wide at the hips, a silhouette based on the eighteenth century. A kimono collar, obi sash, and an undershirt beautifully embroidered to look like tattooing are all drawn from Japanese culture. Next to her, the king appears as an American football player, with shoulder pads and a helmet covered in Japanese tattooing.

In the runway show, the models moved as if they were pieces in a life-sized chess game, an idea inspired by a scene from Harry Potter. Taken as a whole, the collection revealed McQueen’s remarkable ability to look across cultures for inspiration.

Model Naomi Campbell was a close friend of McQueen’s and describes what it’s like to wear a McQueen ensemble:

Naomi Campbell: Everything was extreme. It wasn’t like you want to look beautiful. But you became this completely other creature. And you felt like you went into that vibe, and you went with it. It was regal but it was also with a story to tell, and it was futuristic. It was all in one. It was not predictable in any way or form.

In McQueen’s Words

“[In this collection] the idea of the chess game meant that we looked at six different types of women, women on opposing sides. We had the Americans facing the Japanese and the redheads facing the tanned Latinos.”

Another Magazine, Spring/Summer 2005

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It’s Only a Game, spring/summer 2005
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