Alexander McQueen Bird's Nest Headdress

Celebrating Savage Beauty, the Alexander McQueen retrospective curated by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, milliner Philip Treacy and jeweler Shaun Leane take a closer look at an exhibition piece they worked on with McQueen.

Released on 6/13/2013

Credits

Starring: Philip Treacy and Shaun Leane

Transcript

00:00
(orchestral music)
00:12
McQueen wanted this piece to be high-end couture jewelry,
00:15
but contemporary and innovative as well.
00:17
I cared more about the hats we made for him
00:21
than anybody because he dealt in excellence.
00:26
Swarovski started to work with Alexander McQueen in 1999,
00:29
and it was really via Isabella Blow.
00:33
I think when it came to the show of Widows of Culloden,
00:38
with McQueen, the first thing he said to me was,
00:41
he said, I want you to use really precious metals,
00:43
and precious stones.
00:45
So you had these two pieces which was the nest with the eggs
00:49
which resembled life, which was the beginning of the show.
00:52
It was actually the first look of the show.
00:54
And then near the end of the show we had the skull
00:58
with the black feather plume,
01:00
which was more about death.
01:01
Two beautiful pieces reflecting
01:03
just two different elements of life.
01:05
One thing he did say, he said,
01:07
I'd like them to be like duck eggs.
01:09
You know, the blue with the speckled brown.
01:11
Blue topaz to create the main surface for the eggs,
01:14
and then we had the smoky quartz,
01:18
which we used a darker brown to make the speckles.
01:21
And we had to lay all the stones on very tightly,
01:24
very close, then drill out preset,
01:27
then we would cast these in two halves.
01:29
And the eggs went off to Philip Treacy,
01:31
and then that's where he created his magic.
01:34
They are beautiful.
01:35
Bird's wings are incredibly complex
01:37
and beautiful shapes anyway,
01:39
so when it came to decorating the nest,
01:43
I chose the mallard duck wings to go with it.
01:46
And it just seemed very obvious to use them
01:50
in its purest sense.
01:52
Then we actually wove the nest ourself by hand.
01:55
If there's one person that I could credit
01:57
for reintroducing Swarovski into fashion,
02:00
I absolutely credit Alexander McQueen.
02:02
It was an amazing time.
02:04
It was such an explosively creative time
02:06
in the UK fashion scene.
02:08
And of course for Swarovski it was exciting
02:10
to be a part of this.
02:11
For him, it was all about the show.
02:15
Shows are about fleeting moments.
02:17
And whether it's a sort of glimmer of sparkle,
02:20
or whether it's a two-second experience
02:24
where you're just witnessing something very transient.
02:28
That's fashion.
02:30
(orchestral music)