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Alexander McQueen's DNA to be used for controversial design project

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

Jul 14, 2016


Designer Alexander McQueen was no stranger to controversy during his short life, so perhaps it comes as no surprise that his legacy to challenge convention continues post mortem.

In a rather strange turn of events, Central Saint Martins fashion student Tina Gorjanc has announced she is to create a small range of accessories using 'human leather,' currently being produced in a laboratory using the DNA from Alexander McQueen.

If this all sounds macabre, the waters get even murkier as the story unfolds. Gorjanc was able to secure a strand of McQueen's hair from his first collection 'Jack the Ripper Stalks his Victims' where a lock of his hair was secured in a plastic pocket on a garment, much in the way evidence is preserved in a crime scene.

Human DNA can be harvested to create skin tissue for leather goods

Gorjanc will be harvesting to extract the DNA from the hair, which can then in turn be formulated to create skin tissue and subsequently undergo the same procedures as turning animal skin into leather suitable for clothing and accessories. This is done via a tanning process, which can be either vegetable tanned or using chromium sulfate, also referred to chrome-tanned leather.

In an interview with Dezeen, an influential architecture and design publication, Gorjanc states: “The Pure Human project was designed as a critical design project that aims to address shortcomings concerning the protection of biological information and move the debate forward using current legal structures,” she says. “If a student like me was able to patent a material extracted from Alexander McQueen’s biological information as there was no legislation to stop me, we can only imagine what big corporations with bigger funding are going to be capable of doing in the future.”

The final outcome consists of a range of commercial leather products cultivated from extracted human biological material. The Pure Human project uses Alexander McQueen biological information since his initial hair labels represent a reliable source of authenticated genetic information.

Photo credits: Tina Gorjanc, TomMannion, VicPhilips (Single Malt Teapot), Sanne Visser