Dezeen Magazine

Image of the bubble show space at the Old Royal Naval College

Alexander McQueen reuses Smiljan Radić-designed inflatable dome for fashion show

British fashion house Alexander McQueen reinstalled its inflatable show space, which was designed by Chilean architect Smiljan Radić, at the Old Royal Naval College in London for its Spring Summer 2023 show.

The show took place within the 26-metre-wide inflatable transparent structure, which had been placed on the lawns of the Naval College's gardens in Greenwich overlooking the Thames River.

Radić was originally commissioned to create the structure for Alexander McQueen's Spring Summer 2022 show, which took place on the rooftop of a 10-storey car park in East London's Tobacco Docklands in October 2021.

During its first outing, the brand explained that the dome was designed to be reused for a number of educational and cultural events.

Image of the Smiljan Radić show space in front of the two domed structures in Greenwich
The inflatable structure was reused for the brand's Spring Summer 2023 show

The dome was constructed using a transparent membrane that was tied and constrained by a net of steel tensile cables that were connected to a fixed circular base.

Vents placed in its interior use a generator powered by hydrotreated vegetable oil to pump air that inflates the dome.

Almost a year after it was first used, the inflatable membrane was reinstalled in Greenwich in front of the twin-domed Old Royal Naval College designed by British architect Christopher Wren.

Much like its short tenure on top of the Tobacco Docklands carpark, the inflatable structure was placed on top of a proprietary scaffold system that raised the show space above ground and allowed for backstage functions to take place below.

The shape of the platform that the bulbous membrane sat on mimicked the squared form and symmetry of the garden it sat within.

The floors, stairs and half walls of the temporary structure were clad in a stark white cover. Plinth-like white stools filled the space, as opposed to the wooden folding chairs from the previous year.

“This collection is about searching for humanity and human connection," said Alexander McQueen creative director Sarah Burton of the show. "The eye is a symbol of that humanity, a register of emotion, an expression of uniqueness. Our clothes are designed to empower."

Image of the inflatable show space in front of the Thames River and London skyline
It was set in the gardens of the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich

Alexander McQueen was one of a number of brands, including Raf Simons and Roksanda, who rescheduled their shows following the death of Queen Elizabeth II to coincide with London's next major calendar event, Frieze London 2022, which takes place this week.

In other inflatable news, Dutch design office Studio Dennis Vanderbroeck created a Guinness World Record-breaking inflatable sculpture for Italian fashion brand Diesel's Spring Summer 2023 show during Milan Fashion Week.

UK studios Hugh Broughton Architects and Pearce+ teamed up with artists Ella Good and Nicki Kent to develop an inflatable building that looks into how people would live on Mars.

Photography is courtesy of Alexander McQueen.