Orchid shoulder piece
This astonishing piece of body sculpture was made by Shaun Leane for the final look of McQueen’s Autumn/Winter 2004 collection, Pantheon ad Lucem, which is Latin for ‘Towards the Light’.
The collection, which had a futuristic, other-worldly feel to it, was also known as the ‘Alien’ show. The sculptural form rose out of the funnel neck of a dramatic silver tulle gown that was cinched tightly at the waist to contrast with the wide neckline and full A-line skirt. It created an arresting final image as the model walked to the centre of the catwalk, raised her arms and looked upwards as though she were about to be transported.
The shoulder piece is one of numerous pieces that Shaun Leane created for McQueen during a longstanding collaboration with the designer which dated back to McQueen’s Highland Rape collection (Autumn/Winter 1995). This particular design was inspired by an electroform silver ‘Rose’ corset that Leane had made for one of McQueen’s Givenchy collections (Spring/Summer 2000), where roses bloomed through slits that were cut into the silver bodice, suggesting that they were growing out of the body. On this occasion, Leane rendered silver orchids as well as creating a star-like form with an alien, almost prehistoric, quality. The making process of the two pieces was identical. First Leane sculpted the base – in this case the neck and shoulder section – out of clay before making a resin cast. The cast was then immersed in an electroplating tank for several days until the silver form was 1mm thick. Similarly, the flowers were carved in wax before being cast in resin and electroplated in the same way. These, however, were oxidised to provide a depth of colour that contrasted with the bright, silver form beneath.