Crown of thorns created for Alexander Mcqueen’s Dante show, autumn/winter 1996
I would always get a feel when I was working with Lee [Alexander Mcqueen]. I’d create, say, 20 pieces for a show, but there would always be one or two he’d be really excited about. I would feel his energy and take those pieces as far as I could. The crown of thorns was one he particularly wanted for the Dante show in Christ Church, Spitalfields. He wanted me to create works that evoked life and death. I designed so many creations for that show – from silver rose-thorn vines that twined around the body to horned headdresses. But the crown of thorns was the most important.
I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like. I wanted it to be a powerful headdress, but not too aggressive – quite graceful and elegant. I didn’t want it to overpower Honor [Fraser, the model, left]. It had to be beautiful.
When I worked with Lee, everything came so naturally. I never really questioned what he wanted or what I was going to do; it just all felt right. We liked to create things that inspired and provoked. It wasn’t to shock, it was more to raise questions.
I had been raised a Catholic and spent most of my childhood and early teens going to mass every Sunday. I’d reached a stage of my life in my 20s where religion wasn’t really in the forefront. But when he asked me to make the crown of thorns, I didn’t question it; it was a symbol I grew up with and I made it with love and respect. In a way, it brought faith back into my life.