Image of ‘Jaw Bone’ mouthpiece

‘Jaw Bone’ mouthpiece

  • Untitled
  • Spring/Summer 1998
  • Shaun Leane for Alexander McQueen. Aluminium

This ‘Jaw Bone’ mouthpiece design was crafted in aluminium by jeweller Shaun Leane. Fitted to his own jaw bone, the piece fastens with hooks around the ears and inside the mouth.

Its appearance suggested that the models’ skin and flesh had been stripped off, leaving the jaw bone and front teeth visible. The design took inspiration from reconstructive surgery pioneered in the First and Second World Wars. The design also alludes to certain specimens found in Renaissance Wunderkammers (Cabinets of Wonders), wherein specific aspects – in this case the jaw bone – were displayed in isolation in order to attract the viewer’s gaze.
The mouthpiece was worn by three male models during the catwalk show. Their toenails were painted black and they wore high heels, corsets, skirts and suits. Tailoring in the collection focused on ‘simplicity, purity and precision of cut’ and stood in juxtaposition to stark accessories, such as the ‘Jaw Bone’ mouthpiece.

Throughout his career McQueen was preoccupied with human anatomy and derived inspiration from anatomical drawings by physician Andreas Vesalius as well as from viewing human remains in the collections of London’s Horniman Museum and the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. McQueen’s fascination with the human anatomy is also exemplified in the worm bodice from the Hunger, (Spring/Summer 1996) and the skeletal prints in Natural Dis-tinction, Un-natural Selection, (Spring/Summer 2009).