A story within a scarf: A sit down with fashion designer Gary James McQueen by Galina Antonova
It’s been 10 years since fashion designer Gary James McQueen debuted his first collection “Life, Death, and Rebirth.” Gaining his inspiration, and dedicating the collection to his late uncle, McQueen amazed audiences with the artistry and storytelling that was visible through his scarves.
McQueen told his tale through three main stories. ” ‘Life’ is based on his love of birds..I combined a Japanese block printing aesthetic with photographs that I took of pigeons ‘Death’ is based on the Ivory trade and the impact this has had on endangered species. I created a kaleidoscope from animal bones, which at first glance looks very ornate and floral until you take a closer look. ‘Rebirth’ is based on the rebirth and cycle of creative energy, which depicts moonlit bodies floating in a black void. “
A decade later we wondered where he is finding his inspiration now? When we reached out to McQueen, he was more than willing to take us into the depths of his mindset that he uses when approaching his work.
“I pull lots of different reference points together that you wouldn’t normally associate with each other to create something new. Sometimes music can inspire a feeling as a starting point than I translate this into a visual narrative in my own way.” But is he producing unique fashion, or is he creating artwork? McQueen tells us “I try to create a gallery experience with each collection combining both art and fashion pieces… and beautiful, Luxurious products..but without an authentic and engaging story behind each of these, they become obsolete..just things without any emotion or spirit attached to them.”
Today, McQueen’s roots are still prevalent in his work as a storyteller via fashion. “It’s so much more than just creating things to wear, it’s about giving authenticity to my creations…Everything starts with the final vision of the fictional character or world I’m trying to create and then this is reverse engineered and separated into art pieces, accessories, and garments.”
These efforts were very much visible at the latest pieces McQueen featured at London Fashion Week. “I had a number of Lenticular artworks and photo shoots on display (the final shots become part of the art for me..it’s about creating new ideas through design and styling). The Bodysuits from my most recent “Solstice” collection were on display as well as my new Kimono Gown which will form my next collection”
McQueen shared how he’s using these same measures in one of his most recent projects, which has been working with Italian manufacturer Ratti. With the support, they’ve given him to develop designs without worrying about minimums. “Going forward we are looking at new constructions and styles of scarves, and I will be introducing a new silk/cotton Bandana soon as part of a high-end street range.” We think that it’s safe to say, we can expect some great work from this collaboration.
So what lies ahead for the designer? Nothing less of what we’ve been seeing, in fact, it appears to be much more.”I have got a new lenticular piece, some sculptures and a one of a kind jewelry piece that I will be revealing soon.” When asked about the timespan of when we can expect this work, he shared”It’s never about having a shortage of ideas..as my late uncle once said..” Give me time and I’ll give you a revolution”.
Copywriting by Ellie Cook