Ensemble, No. 13, spring/summer 1999

Alexander McQueen (British, 1969–2010)
No. 13, spring/summer 1999
Corset of brown leather; skirt of cream silk lace; prosthetic legs of carved elm wood
Courtesy of Alexander McQueen
Photograph © Sølve Sundsbø / Art + Commerce

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Andrew Bolton: McQueen made this ensemble with carved prosthetic legs for Aimee Mullins. Mullins is a world-class Paralympic athlete, and she modeled the boots for his 1999 show, No. 13.

Aimee Mullins: They were solid wood, solid ash, so there’s no give in the ankle. So any kind of a runway walk that I had practiced went out the window. And then suddenly they laced me into this leather bodice, and there were some spinning discs in the floor of the runway, which I had, while practicing in these wooden legs, you know . . . was very conscious of how to avoid them. But now that my neck was secured in this almost neck-brace position, I couldn’t look down. I couldn’t even see where the spinning discs were. And I just remember thinking, “Okay, you’ve done the Olympics. You’ve done harder things than this. You can do this. You can survive it.”

And you know, the fact is, nobody knew that they were prosthetic legs. They were the star of the show—these wooden boots peeking out from under this raffia dress—but in fact, they were actually legs made for me.

His clothes have always been very sensuous, and I mean the full gamut of that. So hard and strict and unrelenting, as life can be sometimes. And then this incredibly romantic swishing of the raffia.

In McQueen’s Words

“When I used Aimee [Mullins] for [this collection], I made a point of not putting her in . . . sprinting legs [prostheses for running]. . . . We did try them on but I thought no, that’s not the point of this exercise. The point is that she was to mould in with the rest of the girls.”

i-D, July 2000