BRANDS & STORES #1: ALEXANDER MCQUEEN
Let’s take a look at Alexander McQueen’s new stores, who we’ve always known for his iconic silhouettes, memorable shows, designs that combine traditional with futurism, and innovative approach.
The collaboration initiated by Alexander McQueen creative director Sarah Burton and famous Chilean architect Smiljan Radić in 2017 can be seen in London, Las Vegas, Miami and Istanbul stores. Let’s talk about the meeting of these two names before we talk about the projects produced with the theme called Domestic Labyrinth by Radic.
Radic, one of Chile’s most important architects, is known for his works that interpret the texture, climate and past of his country, with his poetic projects that use unexpected materials, partially futuristic and never looking for “perfection”. Burton, who saw Radic’s concrete housing project in a wooded area in Vilches in a book, wants to work with the architect on it. As in the world of Alexander McQueen, the combination of rawness and refinement in Radic’s projects is what appeals to Burton. Expressing that his work is innovative and that he does not forget the human touch by using new techniques, Burton wants to use the relationship between the brand and these designs. Radic, who previously produced very few projects outside of Chile and designed his first store project for the Alexander Mcqueen, says that this union emerged with Burton’s intuitive intelligence.
The first project where the magnificent minimalism created while Alexander McQueen transforms all the theatrical expression in his designs into a commercial space is the Old Bond Street store opened in London in 2019. We can say that the most important difference between these stores and previous designs is to emphasize the relationship with nature. The brand’s relationship with nature was handled differently in previous designs, in which mostly white lit, light and dark colored marble and curved white walls were used. More distant and industrial, black and white, and more homogeneous light distribution, previous works also show how architectural expression can be differentiated with the same inputs.
The main materials in the housing project, which brings together Burton and Radic, are also at the forefront in Alexander McQueen stores; wood, concrete and stone. Alabaster sculptures on the floor, where light and dark oak and walnut are used, form the natural elements of this maze. The sculptor Marcela Correa is the creator of these sculptures and the wooden sculpture used in the ceiling of the London store. The wooden sculptures, which hang from the ceiling of the store in London, are also used to display object designs. Correa, who is also the wife of Radic, the architect of the project, states that she is very excited that the works she produces will live together with the clothes in the store. The concrete used is cotton-crete, a new material produced by the combination of two brands. The material produced from the combination of cotton fabrics used in Alexander McQueen collections with concrete is poured into a bubble mold and gives the space a new texture created by humans.
The traces of Radic’s project, which created this collaboration, inspired by Le Courbusier’s The Poem of the Right Angle series, can be seen at different points of the stores: The façade of the Miami store, the circular windows, the wooden sculpture in London, the combination of wood-concrete-glass surfaces.
Radic says, “I don’t need to produce something beautiful, I need to produce something current,” and mentions that the one-dimensional perception of time felt when entering a brand new space is transformed with the addition of natural materials. He says there must be “many times in space”; the time in clothes and their production, the natural time of the added wood, the geological time of the stones, the new and contemporary time specific to the place where they all form together…
The stores that emerged as a result of the combination of architecture, art and fashion (how different these three fields are from each other is debatable) reflect the philosophy of the brand and the spirit of the time. The video that welcomes us with sea and sky scenes and takes us from Radic and Correa’s workshop to the construction process and the opening of the London store is a brief summary of this poetic and innovative collaboration.