Alexander McQueen fever is officially in the air.

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‘Inferno: Alexander McQueen’ by Kent Baker and Melanie Rickey

Five years after his untimely death, London is celebrating this genius London talent with two major exhibitions (‘Savage Beauty’ at the V & A and Nick Waplington’s ‘Woking Progress’ at the Tate Britain), alongside the stunning picture book ‘Inferno’ by Kent Baker and words by Melanie Rickey.

Focussing on one show- the breakout AW 1996 ‘Dante’, described as groundbreaking couture meets club culture, which took place at a Crypt in the midst of Jack the Ripper’s killing ground on a freezing March evening, in East London.

The venue in itself set the scene for mystery and intrigue, and the off the beaten track show was bound to be controversial with the fashpack who were keen to see what was next from the inventive young designer.

Coffee table book ‘Inferno’ is an insider’s view of that night. It showcases exclusive, intimate behind the scenes photographs, as viewed from the lens of fashion photographer Kent Baker; After meeting Lee through mutual friends, he casually asked if he could take document the evening, not imagining he would say yes!

The infamous show, set in the apparently haunted venue of Christ Church in Spitalfields, complete with skeleton on the front row, has never been re-created, but you can now see for yourself the buzz and excitement of the show preparation, unseen portraits, model shots, hissy fits and the master at work.

With words by fashion journalist Melanie Rickey, Lee’s peers, his ex, the creative teams, and models that walked for him, all tell their version of what it was like to know and work with the legend on the show. High energy, raw, dramatic, are all phrases that crop up time and time again, alongside tales of the freaky vibe, dark spirits and electricity, which make the anecdotes worth their weight in gold.

Known for always pushing the boundaries in fashion and production, this show was bound to be remembered- as a performance as well as the designs. With Lee once stating “You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for”

This is a book for everyone that agrees with that, and can appreciate couture, and a dark, thoughtful visionary. Long live that sentiment. Even now you’re gone.

By Sara Darling

Inferno: Alexander McQueen by Kent Baker and Melanie Rickey is published by Laurence King Publishing in March, available from www.laurenceking.com

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