LONDON — Alexander McQueen plans to color this town black.
The designer will celebrate five years of the American Express Centurion black card with a major fashion and design event, set for June 3, which will feature a runway show, art auction and the unveiling of a limited-edition Centurion card, WWD has learned.
An announcement is expected today.
McQueen will stage a black-themed show with pieces created for the night and a selection of hits from past collections. Some 500 people are expected to attend the event at Earl’s Court, which one insider said would be “a party of gargantuan proportions, a sort of Claridge’s meets Studio 54.”
Gainsbury and Whiting, McQueen’s runway show producers, are working on the event.
It will be the first time in more than three years that McQueen will show in London; he now shows his collections in Paris and Milan. The designer has also commissioned artists from the music, art and film industries to create black-inspired pieces for a silent auction that evening. Proceeds will go to the London-based charity Lighthouse, which offers services to people in the U.K. who are living with HIV.
In the evening, guests will enter McQueen’s black space, gaze at the designs created by the artists and drink Black Velvets — champagne and Guinness — during the cocktail hour. The fashion show will follow.
McQueen and American Express have been working together since 1997. It was then that the U.K. branch of American Express launched its designer initiative, a long-term sponsorship deal aimed at promoting the U.K. fashion industry.
The question is whether the June show will drum up all the drama of McQueen’s past London efforts funded by American Express, such as his spring 1998 extravaganza that featured a 100-foot Perspex runway, simulated thunder and lightning and a real rainstorm —thanks to the ceiling sprinklers. That show was among the first projects American Express sponsored with McQueen and cost about $150,000.
Last summer, when American Express chose the London-based design duo Boudicca as the winners of the latest sponsorship, the company made it clear it would continue to work with McQueen on special projects. In the past, McQueen has worked on taxi advertising, credit card design and general brainstorming during his years with American Express.
The Centurion card is the company’s premium card and only a few thousand are in circulation around the world. Card holders get access to McQueen’s world via invitations to special events, including store openings, trunk shows and launches. “These customers buy a lot of clothes generally — and a lot of clothes from McQueen,” said Douglas Smith, a director at American Express in the U.K.