The Archive/ Alexander McQueen’s early days

Along with the the arrival of Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, the legendary Alexander Lee McQueen will be receiving another retrospective of his early years. Featuring never-before-seen, behind-the-scenes images of McQueen and his work from the personal collection of photographer Gary Wallis who met the designer when they both attended Central Saint Martins in the early Nineties, this breathtaking showcase gives us a rare glimpse in the designer’s path to stardom.

“We just got on well straightaway, he had a cheeky, naughty sense of humour and he was often teasing me that I fancied him even though he knew that I was straight,” Wallis told Vogue. “He always showed an interest in my work, as he was also very interested in photography. He later said on a few occasions that if he wasn’t a fashion designer he liked the idea of being a photographer, especially shooting conflicts! When he asked me to photograph his final collection, I thought it was fantastic but we had no clue to the reaction that he would get. It was a vibrant time.”

The photographer captured McQueen’s now iconic 1992 graduate collection, ‘Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims’ as well as the designer with his muse Isabella Blow at her famous home, Hillies House.

“I spent a weekend with Lee at Hillies House with Isabella and Detmar Blow just after the Banshee show at Café de Paris in 1994,” remembers Wallis. “Isabella was just so excited about his work and the latest show that she was introducing him to everyone we met in the local town – like the lady in the bakers when we were getting bread for lunch and the guy at the petrol station. Lee was so embarrassed and they were not the least bit interested!”

“McQueen: Backstage – The Early Shows” by Gary Wallis, will be on display at Proud Chelsea from March 4 to April 5. All images from the exhibition feature in the forthcoming book, “Archive: McQueen: Backstage – The Early Shows”, which will be published on 3rd March 2015.