Backstage At McQueen, Nearly 20 Years Later

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Most coffee table books are alluring with the promise of behind-the-scenes photos and Inferno: Alexander McQueen, to be released this May , is no exception. Every detail of the designer's 1996 show Dante is there, photographed on film in soft light by Kent Baker. The photographer spent the entire night before the show with McQueen as he cut revised pieces and styled models for hours. “I just sat in silence, impressed by the focus he could summon up in the early hours. I got the feeling he could cut the patterns with his eyes closed,” Baker writes in the foreword.

The book has a hazy quality—emotionally and graphically—as if, even for the photos, the show that took place almost 20 years ago is hard to remember exactly. It's interesting that this book should come out at this point, with no anniversary or event to peg it to. But who ever needed an excuse to look at McQueen clothes anyway? This book feels more like a smile given to the late designer, well-deserved at any point in time. And for all the severity and drama Alexander McQueen doled out in Dante and beyond, Baker catches him smiling right back.

Images courtesy of Laurence King Publishing Ltd. You can pre-order Inferno: Alexander McQueen on Amazon now.