Over the past couple of months we have been lucky enough to spend time with John Matheson, the man behind @mcqueen_vault who after 20 years of collecting has curated a phenomenal archive of McQueen pieces. He offers an in-depth insight into the work of the late Lee Alexander McQueen and the current creative director Sarah Burton to his community of followers all of whom are as dedicated to the history and craft behind the brand as he is.
He came to us with a fascination of our atelier’s passion for craftsmanship and how we prolong the life of a wide variety of pieces, no matter the brand nor the age. With some of his most precious items in hand, brimming with stories and knowledge about each piece, how we got his hands on them and the collection they were a part of he left them with us to perform some restoration magic.
First up in the McQueen Vault series, we’ll take you through the process of restoring these Alexander McQueen AW 06’ ‘Widoes of Culloden’ Knitted Thigh-High Boot. These come from a reprise of McQueen’s controversial “Highland Rape” collection from 1995 which evolved to a romantic vision of the Scotland told through a story of life and death. Its rich Celtic tweeds and tartans were given the perfect McQueen cinematic touch with mind-blowing embroideries, lace and chiffon gowns haunted by varied spirits of the Highland lore, most notably the heart-stopping hologram of an ethereal Kate Moss.
From the catwalk to our London atelier, they came to us with the soles completely worn out with none of the unique stitching on the soles left. There were scuffs on the heels and the tips of the toes as well as the wool bobbled and worn that made up the thigh-high section.
To begin with, our shoe expert separated the remains of the sole from the upper in order to restitch by hand the missing stitching stitching on the sole having sourced a thread that was the exact same thread width. A pattern was create to replicate the unique platform sole which was then attached and skived to conceal any edges of repairs ensuring the original design was respected.
Our atelier team then filled in the scuffs on the heels and toes which evens out the leather in preparation to colour restore the rest of the upper. As standard in our atelier, colour is hand mixed and we match the finish of the item. For the finishing touches, we de-bobbled the wool on the thigh-high section.
As many of our artisans are designers and makers in their own right, their passion for the craft behind each item we receive is embedded in the work we do as we endeavour to stay true to the original design of the item.