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Alexander McQueen’s Fantastical Armadillo Boot for UNICEF to support UNICEF’s Nepal relief effortsPhoto Christie's Image Ltd 2015

The fashion house collaborates with Christie's on resurrecting the designer's iconic Armadillo boot, currently featured in Christie’s Online Handbags & Accessories Auction

The Boot

While the creative community will forever be indebted to the outright romantic genius of Alexander McQueen, his visionary lens will universally be celebrated for his imaginative intuition — giving his loyal followers an idyllic fantastical narrative told through the construction and execution of his brilliant creations. Many would agree (and few would argue), McQueen’s Spring/Summer 2010 show was a turning point — especially in terms of footwear.

While the clothes for his Plato’s Atlantis collection, and the innovation behind it, showed digital prints with microscopic details of animal skins, his shoes for this collection were the standout. Named ‘The Armadillo Boot’ and made specifically for the runway (except for a few for his friends who managed to snag a coveted pair), only a total of 21 pairs were ever created.

When McQueen was asked about the creation of the boot, he famously stated, ‘The world needs fantasy, not reality. We have enough reality today.’ His sentiment was clearly exemplified in the DNA of his collection and over the last five years, the reigning fantasy behind the boot has managed to become a pillar of McQueen's career.

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McQueen Spring/Summer 2010; Photo by Anthea Simms

The 30 cm high boot is an unconventional choice of footwear — perhaps why they were simply show models — but the shape and silhouette of the shoe seamlessly elongates the leg, almost presenting the shoe as a modern form of ballerina en pointe. Their striking design was catapulted into the pages of fashion glossies world round while simultaneously making their pop cultural debut in Lady Gaga's music video for Bad Romance — where the boot was featured multiple times. According to The Daily Beast, ‘Each pair of armadillos was hand-made in Italy, in an elaborate process that spanned five days and involved 30 people, using material from three suppliers and passing through three factories’. 

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‘Armadillo’ boot sketch, Plato’s Atlantis, Spring/Summer 2010; Pencil on Paper, London, 2009; Courtesy of Alexander McQueen

The Inspiration

His collection was titled ‘Plato’s Atlantis’ and was one of his last before his untimely passing. In it, he constructed a universe where reptilian-like creatures intertwined with underwater life forms under the glow of a sci-fi magnifying glass.

Part of McQueen's brilliance was his interpretation of societal events through his shows — in both the clothing he and his team created (specifically with Sarah Burton, his leading longtime head designer) and the stage on which it was presented. Each anecdote told a tale — a story that defined fashion.

The collection is one that has been celebrated for his stance on the ecological state of the world at the time: through design, he indicated that our universe is composed for figures that evolved from underwater and if the ice caps continue to dissolve, we may be going back to the origins of humanity. That, in his eyes at least, was the forecast of the show.

Right now, five years after the designer’s death, there seems to be a renewed spotlight on the world in which he created. London's Victoria and Albert Museum's show Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, the first and largest retrospective of McQueen's work in Europe, closes on 2 August. Yet again, the designer’s career trajectory is on ultimate display.

As part of Christie’s Handbags & Accessories auction running from 14 July through 23 July, three pairs of the Armadillo Boot have been authentically reproduced exclusively for the auction, with 100 per cent of the net amount from the auction sale of the boots to be donated by Alexander McQueen to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF in order to support earthquake relief efforts in Nepal. For the first time since the 2010 collection, the Armadillo Boot has been handcrafted in Italy from both wood and authentic Python skin. A runway relic no more. (Words by Yale Breslin)

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A pair of Python Armadillo Boots, Alexander McQueen, 2015. Estimate USD 10,000 - 15,000. Photo Christie's Image Ltd 2015

he python scale is a 50mm+. The total of the heel is 220mm, the platform 120mm and the last 105mm. Dustbag, box and Certificate of Authenticity included. Size 39. Excellent Condition; as new. 

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A pair of Python Armadillo Boots, Alexander McQueen, 2015. Estimate USD 10,000 - 15,000. Photo Christie's Image Ltd 2015

he python scale is a 50mm+. The total of the heel is 220mm, the platform 120mm and the last 105mm. Dustbag, box and Certificate of Authenticity included. Size 39. Excellent Condition; as new.

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A pair of Python Armadillo Boots, Alexander McQueen, 2015. Estimate USD 10,000 - 15,000. Photo Christie's Image Ltd 2015

he python scale is a 50mm+. The total of the heel is 220mm, the platform 120mm and the last 105mm. Dustbag, box and Certificate of Authenticity included. Size 39. Excellent Condition; as new.

Proceeds from this lot are intended to be donated by Alexander McQueen to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to support UNICEF’s Nepal relief efforts.