Runway pieces have become iconic and shockingly rare. This extraordinary patchwork leather set is from the Spring Summer 1999 collection. McQueen's 1999 Spring/Summer collection was untitled so is simply referred to as "No 13" as it was his 13th collection. The collection was based on the "Arts and Crafts" movement and which focused on the contrast and opposites of man and machine, craft and technology. The show ended with Shalom Harlow being spray painted by two robots live on the runway, while she stood on a moving platform built into the stage. (In the runway still we took from the show video you can see the robotic arm in the left hand of the background.) The finale dress from this show is now one of the highlights of the exhibit "Savage Beauty" that has gotten so much acclaim. This particular show catapulted McQueen into the spotlight and cemented him as a design who used the catwalk as "spectacle" presenting themes and drama. The clothes were often not produced as shown on the runway so whenever you have a piece as presented it is that much more collectible. I actually had two of these sets, this one that is available here and a second in blue that is now in the permanent archives of a museum.
It is also important to note that in the accompanying book to the Savage Beauty exhibit, on page 23, they remark that this is the only show to make McQueen cry. He said of his motivation behind this collection "I suppose the idea is to show that that beauty come from within"
The set itself is amazing. McQueen's methods of cutting and construction were both innovative and revolutionary. His work in leathers was second to none and this two piece ensemble is the perfect illustration of that. The leather is used as one would a fabric and cut and placed for his masterful draping and The halter top is cut exceedingly low in the back.The buckle bondage elements became a common theme and his workmanship in leather in unmatched. The top buckles behind the neck and the back is left completely and utterly bare. The skirt is meant to sit low on the hips and flares out in the perfect slightly exaggerated A-line. The patches are a combination of glossed pale pink leather, an off-white colored suede and then a deep burgundy leather. The natural color leather straps at the back of the neck and at the lower back on the halter add a stark contrast. Heavy rawhide whip stitching finish both pieces. An amazing piece and utterly collectible.