Titled "The Girl Who Lived in a Tree," Alexander McQueen's Fall/Winter 2008-9 collection was dedicated to Britannia, the symbolic representation of the British Empire. Themes related to British history were a McQueen favorite; the 1995 Highland Rape collection is perhaps his most notorious exploration into British history. "The Girl Who Lived in a Tree" collection was conceptualized after McQueen had taken an extended trip to India. His vision for the collection was fueled by "images of Queen Victoria, the Duke of Wellington, and the Indian Empire."* The focal points of this dress are the two appliqued lace peacocks on the front and back. Native to India and symbolic of war and royalty, these imperial birds recall Queen Victoria (1819-1901), who was crowned Empress of India in 1876 at the height of British Colonialism. The black feathers over a froth of cream tulle evoke a mourning palette; the same as Victoria's self-imposed dress code after the death of her beloved husband Prince Albert in 1861. Moving into the twentieth century, the strapless bodice and full skirt are reminders of Christian Dior's post World War II New Look silhouette, which was popular at the time of the present queen's coronation in 1953.
* Mower, Sarah. Review of Alexander McQueen runway presentation. Style.com. Feb. 29, 2009.