Byronesque’s Underground Tribute to Lee Alexander McQueen

It’s a Jungle Out There FW97 – Coat
Highland Rape FW95 – Suede Trouser Boots

Joan FW98 – Button Up Leather Skirt + Corset

Untitled (The Golden Shower) SS98 – Leather Coat

What A Merry Go Round FW01 – Tailored Skirt Jacket

Dante – FW96 Mask #5/7

In the midst of Paris Fashion Week, Byronesque staged an underground presentation, quite literally, in the cave of an unassuming Parisian apartment building. If the exclusive invitations weren’t enough, the dimly lit staircase and dusty, crumbly walls would set apart the faint of heart. Against all expectations and norms, the select few who made it down would come to find a pop-up opposite to any other. To celebrate his 40th anniversary at PFW, 6 iconic garments hung in the dark from the pinnacle of Lee Alexander McQueen’s career.

At a time when vintage resale dominates the fashion industry, we are fooling ourselves that overconsumption can be a positive. But the market is oversaturated with old garments that fall apart after one wear and goods that have been collecting dust on shelves for decades suddenly tripling in value. The industry, once a passionate and loving community, has become a ruthless competition measured by the success of posts on social media. Byronesque’s manifesto is to rebel against what the practices of fashion have become by offering a global broking network for die-hard archivists and collectors.

For Gill Linton, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Byronesque, the idea to honour McQueen came from a sense of longing over the past few months. As changes to his namesake label played out, such as the rebranding that stripped “Alexander” from the logo and the appointment of Seán McGirr as Creative Director, she knew it would be an entirely different approach to the originality and authenticity of what had once been.

The day after the FW24 McQueen show, following the wave of mixed reviews and an overall disappointed energy, Byronesque’s presentation played out as a memorial for the McQueen that will never be again. Suede Trouser Boots that walked the Highland Rape runway of FW95, a button-up leather skirt and corset from the Joan collection of FW98, and a leather coat in pristine condition from what became known as The Golden Shower of SS98 were among the pieces hanging in the cave. The garments, some of which Lee McQueen had personally worked on, represent a time when he didn’t even know the legacy he was sewing.

Under a heavy spotlight, one of the original Dante Masks was also in the room. Gill had the chance to speak to Simon Costin, their creator, earlier this year. He shared with her the process by which they came to be; sourcing each Jesus before the ease of eBay, pulling them off their wooden crucifixes, making sure they were the exact right shape and size for the models faces. “Because of this, each mask is one of a kind,” and while over a dozen masks were made, Byronesque holds one of only 7 left in circulation – none are owned by Kanye West.

Each piece came to Byronesque from individuals who have cherished them for years, who hope for them to be passed on through the community and to continue to be appreciated as artefacts of fashion history. As Gill pointed out, it would be a crime for them to end up on a mass market vintage resale site… The garments hold a priceless emotional value and Byronesque is proud to be the bridge that connects the people who recognise it. Amongst these people is Fecal Matter (@matieresfecales), the couple infamous for their shocking images and artful appearances, who have collaborated with Byronesque in creating an editorial lookbook that commemorates the presentation (yet to be released).

Byronesque maintains a ruthless attitude to what should be valued amongst vintage fashion, and this presentation is a reminder of the standard that contemporary designers have to compete with.