Though the dawn of the internet has opened fashion up to the masses, allowing us to delve into its rich history through YouTube videos of shows that took place long before we were aware of the power of clothes, and Instagram accounts curating runway images from years gone by, there are still corners of the industry that remain undiscovered.
One such corner is the Yoox Net-A-Porter film archive The Runway Collection, where unseen videos spanning the last 40 years lie in wait of discovery, with behind-the-scenes footage, previously unpublished runway films, interviews and more among their content.
Now, as part of a new project, the organisation has invited a fellow archivist, John Matheson, to dive into its vast back catalogue and bring a number of unseen films to light. Known as an expert on all things Alexander McQueen, Matheson is also behind the widely followed Instagram account @mcqueen_vault, where he fills followers in on the legendary designer’s work, allowing those who’d likely never get close to garments a closer look, and informing them of the stories and inspirations that influenced McQueen.
With each new, exclusive, and in some cases, never-before-seen clip set to be posted on @mcqueen_vault across the coming weeks, Matheson had a clear vision of where the project should begin as soon as he was invited by YNAP to look through its archive.
“My starting point was shows that were filmed early on when footage might have been harder to come by, and I asked to review his Givenchy shows first because I have a weakness for his time there, ” he explains. “I was instantly surprised at the amount of footage and level of detail that was available. Obviously tech wasn’t as evolved in the 80s and 90s, so for many of us that have been watching grainy digitised VHS recordings for the past 20 years, it showed McQueen’s precision in a new light.”
Kicking off today with three runway supercuts offering an alternate view of a series of collections – with Voss, Highland Rape, and The Birds among them – Matheson will hone in on the craftsmanship, subversion, and romanticism of McQueen’s practice, before moving on to more unknown footage. “We’ll progress into rarities and never-before-released films and interviews in the 90s, lesser explored moments, with some very special guests that anyone who loves the McQueen universe will instantly recognise,” he says.
Though he doesn’t want to give too much away as to what’s to come, the archivist is particularly excited about one clip which depicts McQueen’s Central Saint Martins graduate collection in 1992. “Seeing it unedited and among his peers’ was a revelation. I’d seen parts of it before but seeing it clear and raw was startling given you could see just how pure his intent was from the very start.”
Watch the first film above and hit follow on @mcqueen_vault to watch the series as it progresses.