‘Empire’ Bag

  • The Girl Who Lived in the Tree
  • Autumn/Winter 2008
  • Copper alloy, enamel, gilt, Swarovski crystal and leather

‘[In this collection] she was a feral creature living in the tree. When she decided to descend to earth, she transformed into a princess.’ Alexander McQueen

McQueen spent a month travelling in India with long-time creative collaborator Shaun Leane and credited the British Empire as a one of the sources of inspiration for his Autumn/Winter 2008 collection. This bag formed part of the final look, which consisted of a crimson coat and embroidered, high-waisted dress. Its egg-shaped form recalls that of the elaborate Easter eggs made in the workshop of the jeweller and goldsmith Fabergé for Russia’s Imperial family.

The design resembles that of Fabergé’s Rosebud egg of 1895, made by Michael Perchin under the supervision of Peter Carl Fabergé. It was the first egg that Nicholas II of Russia presented to his wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. The Fabergé eggs, produced between 1885 and 1916, were an expression of the last years of excess and privilege of Imperial Russia. These intricate and lavish creations were made from gold and precious jewels, with striking results.

Although the McQueen bag is rendered in the humbler materials of leather and enamel, their glint and sheen still suggest luxury and opulence.