Alexander McQueen is no doubt up to his neck in his fabulous fall 2009 collection, with Paris Fashion Week just weeks away. But the legendary designer set aside a little time for the Cut to talk about one of 2009’s most exciting collaborations, his forthcoming Target collection. The line doesn’t hit stores until March 4, but New Yorkers can purchase it next weekend. Yes, we are special. Target’s McQ Market will run from Saturday, February 14 through Sunday, February 15 at St. John’s Center on Houston Street. So don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, celebrate McQueen. Now you have a reason to be excited for Valentine’s Day.
Cut: How did you approach designing the Target collection differently from your McQ line?
Alexander McQueen: Well it is actually not so far away from how I design the McQ collection; I started with a feeling, a girl and her spirit, and ran with it. There are elements which are naturally “me” which stayed the same, the design details and the edge, for example.
Cut: What was the greatest challenge of designing this collection?
AM: Obviously we worked using different fabrics than we would usually use; but I don’t think it was a compromise — it was more using fabrics which suited the designs. But this was definitely a new way of designing and producing for us.
Usually the fabric treatments can be costly processes, so we worked a bit differently. It was more the fact that we used zips on knitwear and cotton binding on a silk dress. It’s like combining the rough with the smooth, in a way, but we used details to toughen up the softer pieces in the collection.
AM: The idea of increasing my visibility in the U.S. for McQ was appealing to me — I liked the idea of someone in the Midwest buying a piece of McQ and taking a bit of London home with them. I like the idea of infiltrating an area that is not really exposed to me or my work.
Cut: How did the collaboration come about? Did Target approach you?
AM: We started speaking with Target about a year ago — they approached me regarding a collection with a twist and asked if there was a creative element or muse that inspires me. Knowing the company’s amazing designer history and strong philosophy of offering great design and high quality at an excellent value, I was excited at the opportunity to partner with them.
Cut: What do you hope this line does for your brand?
AM: I think the idea of mixing luxury and mass-market fashion is very modern, very now — no one wears head-to-toe designer anymore. It was an exciting challenge to translate my vision into a mass-produced product that is accessible to people who otherwise would have never been exposed to my work.
Cut: Would you say the fashion world has come to terms with designers doing lower-priced lines?
AM: Absolutely! I think the idea of mixing luxury and mass-market fashion is very modern — wearing head-to-toe designer has become a bit passé.
It’s a new era in fashion — there are no rules. It’s all about the individual and personal style, wearing high-end, low-end, classic labels, and up-and-coming designers all together.
Cut: What concerns did you have going into the project?
AM: I didn’t have many concerns; I believe that if you maintain your high line quality and overall aesthetic, as I did with Target, a partnership like this is actually quite brilliant for a designer.
Cut: What was the greatest surprise?
AM:The speed at which the collections were realized! I have to work quickly with McQ and McQueen, but my design team and the Target production facility worked so quickly and produced a great line.
Cut: Do you think consumers in Middle America are ready for McQueen?
AM: Definitely — it was an exciting challenge to translate my vision into a mass-produced product that is accessible to people who otherwise would have never been exposed to my work. I think there will be some McQueen fans who are excited for the collection, and of course the loyal Target shoppers who will be pleasantly surprised at the edginess and level of style offered.
Cut: What was your inspiration?
AM: The pieces in the collection are more about a spirit and less about any one specific inspiration.
The heart of McQ is rebellious youth culture, a certain spirit that embodies the regular line as well as the Target collection. It’s an ‘eighties punk aesthetic that evokes the anarchy and social change of the time. Youth culture now really looks back and embraces the past, but keeps it contemporary but not sticking to one particular style.
I thought of what The Duke Spirit’s lead singer, Leila Moss, might wear on stage. She has brilliant stage presence, very energetic and compelling.
Cut: Did your decision to do the line have anything to do with the economic downturn?
AM: It is a difficult time with the current economy and we are delighted to be able to offer an affordable line to fashion-savvy shoppers. Fashion and style should not be exclusive to the luxury market or to those who have a certain amount of money.
Target McQ Market
When: Saturday, February 14 – Sunday February 15; noon – 10pm
(On Saturday night from 7pm – 9pm, guests will enjoy performances from Marnie Stern, The Phenomenal Handclap Band, and Acrylics.)
Where: St. John’s Center
330 West Street at W. Houston Street
New York, NY 10013