'Bell Jar’ dress

  • Natural Dis-tinction, Un-natural Selection
  • Spring/Summer 2009
  • Swarovski crystal and net

This dress’s rounded silhouette exaggerates the curve of the female form, with a skirt sculpted over the hips to suggest the shape of a Victorian specimen jar, an oblique reference to the biological specimens amassed by natural scientist Charles Darwin.

The shape formed a key look for McQueen’s Spring/Summer 2009 collection, Natural Dis-tinction, Un-natural Selection. The show interrogated the impact of man on the environment and featured fashion models interspersed with antique taxidermy including polar bears, giraffes, zebras and other creatures, with the rotating earth as a projected backdrop.

More crystal than textile, the dress’s net base is so densely covered with the glittering stones that it all but blinds the viewer with its sparkle. McQueen often pushed a material’s creative potential to the outer limits, in this case Swarovski crystal.

Read more about Alexander McQueen’s collaboration with Swarovski