A Look Back at Plato’s Atlantis


“The world needs fantasy, not reality. We have enough reality today”- Alexander McQueen

The last collection Alexander McQueen would complete before his death, merging Plato’s prophecies of Atlantis, Darwin and modern concerns over global warming. The title referenced the legendary island of enlightened beings that sunk into the sea two millennia ago. Prophesying a future in which ice caps have melted, the rising seas have submerged civilisation, forcing mankind to evolve itself in order to survive in an underwater world. Plato’s Atlantis is Darwin’s theory of evolution in reverse; humans transforming back to hybrids capable of living in the oceans; humanity going back to its origin.

As evolution advanced from species to species on the runway, the progression from life on land to life under the sea was emphasised as the models features changed. The digitally printed dresses started with images of life above sea level: natural camouflages, roses, moths and aerial views of land, moving on to snakes and amphibious prints, suggesting a transition to water- and finally a palette of blue and purple, with images of ocean creatures such as stingrays, coral reefs and bioluminescent jellyfish. Hair & makeup artists Guido Palau and Peter Philips intensified the transformation, turning the models into magnificent sci-fi sea creatures. A pearlescent layer was added to the models’ faces, with prosthetic padding around eyebrows and cheekbones for a distorted alien aquatic look.

McQueen who loved to draw inspiration from nature, believed that the world needed fantasy- which he never failed to provide with his often dark and poetic collections. Later, when McQueen was asked about the creation of the collection’s famous armadillo boot, he would famously state “The world needs fantasy, not reality. We have enough reality today.” And it would be Plato’s Atlantis, with the Armadillo boot as its crown jewel, that would become one of the pillars of his career.

Images © Team Peter Stigter