LONDON — Alexander McQueen wasn't going to let the functional dictates of designing a luggage collection get in the way of his out-of-left-field approach to fashion.
For his first collaboration with Samsonite, he molded one of the suitcases he created, the AI1, around the cast of a human rib cage. He also dragged a stuffed crocodile into his first meeting with the brand's executives so they could re-create the animal's armor in leather for the AI2 suitcase.
"The rib cage holds everything inside your body — the heart, lungs and soul — while your bag also holds everything that's important to you," said McQueen during a lunch here on Tuesday to unveil the collection. A similar event will be held in New York on Tuesday.
"It's just the way I work, having that twist," added McQueen. "There's also a slightly sick side to it — it's like having a body in a bag."
In another nod to the human form, the zippers on the luggage collection, in ivory and black, are embossed with an imprint of McQueen's thumb.
The 11-piece collection, called Samsonite Black Label Alexander McQueen, will be launched in February at all 30 Samsonite Black Label stores worldwide, as well as at Alexander McQueen boutiques and department stores such as Selfridges in London, Neiman Marcus in the U.S. and Isetan in Japan. The line will also retail on the Samsonite Black Label e-commerce site. Although all prices are not final, Marcello Bottoli, president and chief executive officer of the Samsonite Group, said the luggage would retail from about $320 to about $770 for an AI1 or A12 suitcase.
"I didn't really see any restrictions [designing the collection]," said McQueen about his relationship with Samsonite. "I want the world and it's up to them to give it to me."
To produce McQueen's designs, Samsonite created custom molds to achieve the patterns on the suitcases, made from ABS, a hard-wearing plastic.
"The haute couture side comes from Samsonite," said McQueen. "The crocodile design was my concept, but then Samsonite took it into the atelier and made it."
A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"