MODUS OPERANDI. Alexander McQueen

This Modus Operandi post is dedicated to Lee Alexander McQueen, who tragically took his own life yesterday. The designer, discovered by his close friend, the late iconic stylist, Isabella Blow, and better known professionally as Alexander McQueen, has always been one of the most fascinating talents in fashion. I still remember the French press referring to McQueen as the “enfant terrible” after being named head designer of Givenchy Haute Couture back in 1996, when I was still a teen.

Quintessentially gothic, what I admire most about McQueen is his ability to channel his dark genius into absolutely beautiful and stunning art that is neither contrived nor cliche. However sadly, it was this macabre energy that consumed him in the end. The following are a few of my favorite Alexander McQueen designs of all time, accompanied by some of his more candid quotes.

“I kind of like it the way it is right now…I believe in that one-on-one sell. I don’t really believe in flooding the market with loads of goods that don’t mean much, and (you) lose your identity.”

Alexander McQueen Fall 2009 RTW

“The pink sheep of the family.” (on himself)

Alexander McQueen Spring 2009 RTW

“If you ask any lady they want to be taller, they want to be slimmer, you know, and they want a waist. I’m not here to make people look like a sack of potatoes.”

Alexander McQueen Shoes Spring 2010 RTW

“Fashion is sacrificial. I’ll give my body over to the general public whether they want it or not! I don’t care!” (When asked about his Samsonite Black Label collaboration)

Samsonite Black Label “Hero” by Alexander McQueen 2007

“British fashion is self confident and fearless. It refuses to bow to commerce, thus generating a constant flow of new ideas whilst drawing in British heritage.”

Alexander McQueen Fall 2006 RTW

Alexander McQueen for Givenchy Couture Spring/Summer 2000

In 2008, Elle magazine asked McQueen, “If you could come back as a dress, which one would it be?” His reply, “My kimono dress from fall ’03.”

Alexander McQueen’s Kimono Dress Fall 2003 RTW

My favorite Alexander McQueen piece, which I was fortunate enough to see at FIT’s Gothic Dark Glamour Exhibition, is absolutely mind-blowing in person.

Alexander McQueen Voss Collection Spring 2001 RTW

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” Dr. Seuss

Agreed. Thank you Alexander McQueen for having existed, for your wondrous creative genius, and for your magnificent contribution to fashion. You are forever an inspiration. May you rest in peace.

Net-a-Porter’s Tribute to Alexander McQueen

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MODUS OPERANDI. Through the Looking-Glass

Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice at fast as that!
The Red Queen, Through The Looking-Glass by Louis Carrol

This week’s modus operandi is Alice from Louis Carroll’s, Through the Looking-Glass, the sequel to his 1865 novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I’ve always been fascinated with Carroll’s purported child muse, Alice Liddell, of whom the Wonderland tales are supposedly named after, and the following is what I would put on if I were Alice for a day.

Vera Wang Seamed Dress

Agent Provocateur Melody Stockings

Lanvin Patent Leather Ballerina Flats

Mercedes Headband in Silver by Eugenia Kim

My Alice would wear Lolita Lempicka’s Forbidden Flower, a vivid yet soft floral fragrance with notes of strawberry leaf (sweet), violet (powdery), almond musk (mysterious), and absinth stem (just a little psychedelic).

And of course, one must have a looking glass if one is to go through it…

Empire Giltwood Mirror Circa 1820

Trailer for Alice in Wonderland directed by Tim Burton, starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Crispin Glover, and Anne Hathaway
Release date March 5, 2010

My personal favorite interpretation of Alice in Wonderland – Jan Švankmajer’s Alice 1988

Disney’s 1951 Classic


This week’s modus operandi is The Red Shoes, a Hans Christian Anderson tale about a pair of enchanted red shoes that possesses its wearer to dance uncontrollably. The story has many interpretations, most notably the 1948 film adaptation starring ballerina Moira Shearer. I’ve always been partial to red footwear and dancing, and the following red shoes are destined to make your feet the life of every holiday party.

Christian Louboutin Dillian in Red

Bettye Muller Ceremony Mary Jane

Manolo Blahnik Leopard-Print Pump

Sergio Rossi Cut-out Zip Pump

Yves Saint Laurent Eel Skin Platform Pump in Red

Prada Cut-out Shoe Bootie

Chanel Cruise 2009/10 Metallic Finish Lambskin Sandal on Wedge

With its haunting imagery and gilded use of color, Michael Powell’s and Emeric Pressburger’s, The Red Shoes, is a darkly construed cinematic delight.

The Red Shoes, 1948


Today would have been Isabella Blow’s fifty-first birthday. The fashion icon and former magazine editor made famous by her habit of wearing intensely robust hats, and known for discovering Alexander McQueen, Philip Treacy, Hussein Chalayan, and models Sophie Dahl and Stella Tennant, is this week’s modus operandi. The following personify her brilliance and eccentric spirit amongst some of her most memorable quotes.

“When I die…McQueen says he wants my head, because he wants to wake up one morning and see my lips move, saying: ‘Where are my clothes?'”

Alexander McQueen S/S 2010 RTW

“I do just love breasts. They’re so old-fashioned.”

Agent Provocateur Meteorite Bra

“Fashion is a vampiric thing. It’s the hoover on your brain. That’s why I wear the hats, to keep everyone away from me. They say, ‘Oh, can I kiss you?’, I say, ‘No, thank you very much. That’s why I’ve worn the hat. Goodbye.’ I don’t want to be kissed by all and sundry. I want to be kissed by the people I love.”

“A cheaper and less painful form of plastic surgery.” – explaining her love of hats.

Phillip Treacy Hat A/W 2009 RTW

“It’s not a mad hatter’s tea party. It’s meant to be a sensual, erotic display. You’re there to get a new husband, a new boyfriend, a new girlfriend, whatever. And you can get it. The hat is a means to an end, a marriage contract. It’s everything. It’s a sensual thing – the idea of catching somebody like a spider in a web. It’s the old fashioned cock-and-hen story, the mating dance. Men love hats. They love it because it’s something they have to take off in order to **** you. Anyone can wear a hat.”

“I wear them pretty well every day (hats), but to make myself look better. If I’m already looking ill, I just wear a pair of sunglasses.”

Alain Mikli 30th Anniversary Collector’s Sunglasses

“If you don’t wear lipstick, I can’t talk to you. You need to have lips – they are important for getting men.”

Lipstick Queen’s Red Sinner

It was said she loved to clean her work desk with Chanel N°5

Two biographies on Blow are to be published in 2010. Blow by Blow: The Story of Isabella Blow, is co-written by Detmar Blow, Isabella’s husband of 18 years, and fashion writer, Plum Sykes’ brother, Tom Sykes, who met Isabella at 20 when Plum was her assistant at Vogue. The other is written by Lauren Goldstein Crowe, author of The Towering World of Jimmy Choo, and former fashion blogger.

Fashion Television’s Tribute to Isabella Blow

Happy Birthday Issie! You are missed.

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MODUS OPERANDI. Alexander McQueen



This week’s modus operandi is Gala, Salavador Dali’s beloved wife, muse, and agent. Gala’s beauty, a derivative of her genius and strength, is forever immortalized in Dali’s work, in which he demonstratively worships her. The following are extraordinary Gala-esque items that will woo and amuse you.

Givenchy Fall 2009 Couture Gown Reminiscent of Dali and Disney’s Destino

Gold, Diamonds and Sapphires Make Up Dali’s Tree of Life Necklace, 1949

Christian Louboutin Jeweled Platform Slingback

Fracas Parfum by Robert Piguet

This dramatic tuberose classic always makes a statement, and Fracas, meaning “a disorderly quarrel”, is surely the perfume of choice for a muse.

Hermes Vision II Calfskin Agenda Cover in Bright Blue

The utmost perfect way for an agent to keep her artist organized.

Part outdoor furniture; part sculpture, the Wave Hammock by Erik Nyberg and Gustav StrömBed for Royal Botania is the ideal bed for the artist and his muse.

Destino, 1946/2003

MODUS OPERANDI. Charlotte Sometimes


“By bedtime all the faces, the voices had blurred for Charlotte to one face, one voice.” Charlotte Sometimes, the children’s book written by Penelope Farmer is this week’s modus operandi.


The novel, which takes place in 1963, is about a school girl named Charlotte who awakes to find her identity swapped with a girl named Clare,  forty-five years in the past, in the year 1918. An eerily fascinating story, I imagine the following to be characteristic of Charlotte’s 1918 existence:

Marni’s Crispy Cover Asymmetrical Dress in Night Blue

Wolford Dania Ajoure-Python Tights

Christian Louboutin Fifre Booties in Black 120

Vintage Bakelite Daisy Pendant on Celluloid Chain From BeJewelled

Kana Harada Hand Mirror

L’Original Quelques Fleurs by Houbigant

Making its debut in 1912, Quelques Fleurs is the absolute perfect green floral.

Anichini Hotel Collection Percale Sheets in Palladio

Victorian Brass Bed from Newel as Featured in the Movie, The Devil’s Own



Modus operandi: Opium. Intoxicating, indulgent, somewhat depraved; opium inspires rich colors, languid textures, and Chinoiserie no doubt. The following are a few dreamy implementations of this modus operandi – the modern opiate lifestyle.

Kiki de Montparnasse Muse Robe

Beaute Strass Louboutins

X Perfume for Men by Clive Christian

Although it’s for men, X, with its heavy spiciness, is a very “true” oriental fragrance, and has always been my favorite Clive Christian scent.

Serge Lutens Faux-Semblant Nail Lacquer in Nude and Sang Bleu Nail Lacquer in Dark Red

The perfect duo for the classic mani/pedi.

Marie Antoinette Chandelier designed by Carlo Dal Bianco for Bisazza

Pudong Collection Bedding by Yves Delorme

Chinese Antique Canopy Bed Circa 1900 from Tealan

I’m very partial to antique oriental furniture, Chinese in particular.