Suit, Highland Rape, autumn/winter 1995–96

Alexander McQueen (British, 1969–2010)
Highland Rape, autumn/winter 1995–96 (jacket and skirt not worn together on the runway)
Jacket of McQueen wool tartan with green wool felt sleeves; skirt of McQueen wool tartan
From the collection of Isabella Blow courtesy of the Hon. Daphne Guinness
Photograph © Sølve Sundsbø / Art + Commerce

Read an article by Jonathan Faiers about McQueen and tartan.

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Andrew Bolton: The collection Highland Rape, which was in autumn/winter 1995 to 1996, is widely considered to be the collection that established McQueen’s reputation internationally. At the time, people thought the rape referenced the rape of women. But it was actually the rape of Scotland by England. The collection actually referenced the Jacobite risings of the eighteenth century and the Highland Clearances of the nineteenth century.

McQueen saw the Scottish heritage as rather bleak and rather brutal. In this particular collection, you can see that actually manifested in the clothes themselves by the slashing of the garments. There’s one particular dress, which is made out of green leather with a slash in the middle of the dress, just at the breasts. And we actually used that conceit as part of the construction of this gallery, where you’ll see a large gash created out of the wooden planks, which is a reference to McQueen’s punkish attitude and also the deconstructionism that you see in the dresses in this particular gallery.