How limits create freedom

An ode to Alexander McQueen, elegance and limits, editorial styled, designed, shot and edited by Lary Rauh

Having designed this dress about a year ago, I only recently got what I think is it’s real meaning and also the aesthetic foundation for the accompanying editorial. During a similar time frame I concerned myself with Alexander McQueen’s works for the first time and still am blown away by the incredible legacy he’s left behind. A legacy that is so full of beauty, imagination and passive-aggressive energy work-wise but characterized by an equal amount of sadness and tragedy when it comes to his personal life. That contradiction struck me from the beginning. As someone who loves well-conceived realization in all areas — may it be traditional art forms like paintings, fashion, music, movies or performances — the lifetime achievement of Alexander McQueen equals my personal paradise. That same ingenuity is something I’m missing in fashion, especially in the past couple of years. We’re living in a time where there’s either sheer sloppiness — talking Vetements, that whole 90s revival thing and ugly sneakers — or the opposite, the “pretty” but unadventurous recombination of stripes, ruffles and grey checks prevailing. Perfectly tailored to alert our shortening attention spans even after looking at the 10000th blogger wearing that amazing white lace dress or front button skirt. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll most likely spot me wearing a sweater too, every now and then. In fact, I sleep in a hoodie every night. But nevertheless I’ve always felt drawn to a more sophisticated, darker, dramatic approach to fashion, still containing the elegance that used to be so effortless and en vogue once — see 20s, 50s, 60s… McQueen once said: “I think there is beauty in everything. What ‘normal’ people would perceive as ugly I can usually see something of beauty in it.” And still, even designs of his that some might call “ugly” contained immense elegance. So should we really be asking ourselves whether fashion is dead? Isn’t it elegance that’s breathing it’s last? 

Flaws define us

If all doors are open to choose from why pick the one everyone opens? Because it’s the tried and tested route, the safe one. I’ve come to the conclusion that limitation plays a significant role in developing personal style. The real process of finding yourself, your style, your personality begins as soon as the main gate remains shut. Either by financial assets, social restrictions or by simply not allowing yourself to completely conform to any kind of mainstream. The individual choice of back exits and hallways defines who we are. I think this is how personal or signature styles are or at least should be created — not limiting this approach to clothing only here but to photography or art or any other form of expression as well. When starting this whole journey many years ago I was so eager to get myself a branding like all the other internet personas, bloggers, artists etc. seemed to have it that I just randomly picked what I wanted to be known for. For example, naive 14-year old me loved ruffles, mint green, velvet and [insert cute pet here]. Fast forward a few years later and I can tell you that conforming or forcing yourself to like and support things only because of their public image leads to severe dissatisfaction. (Maybe that’s why Greenwashing doesn’t work?) Now I know, style has to come from within in order to properly represent one’s character and lifestyle, not by aiming to be someone else or striving to attune to a certain beauty standard. Not even if your goal is to be different. For the sake of being different. Bad idea. 

Same goes for photography or design work. What helped me at least taking steps toward finding my own style in photography over the past year (still so much unreleased stuff lingering on my harddrive) was not having fancy light settings, the latest camera or the photoshop knowledge of a pro graphic designer. Instead, once again perceived flaws define us — or our work — more than “perfection” does. The unique strategy to compensate limits and make the process work despite them might be what art is all about. It’s what my art is about. Imagine having all the equipment and knowledge in the world. Could you decide on what lights to choose, what camera to shoot with or what colour look to give your pictures in post-production (this is sometimes actually pretty tough)? Maybe in some cases, limits can actually originate freedom, while freedom would only cause limits. Even worse, we would limit ourselves. 

Never limit yourself

Attaining this perspective has also helped me understand that it’s okay to progress from what you once thought was right or identified with. Who can tell how long I’ll be following this particular path? There are always alleys offering new angles but leading back to the main street, in the end. 

To finally conclude the meaning and visual foundation of dress and editorial: It’s and ode to Alexander McQueen, to drama, to tragic beauty, to the fleeting elegance of bygone eras, shot in nature’s very own spotlight: diffuse sunlight. 


Lary Rauh dress. Di Lauro boots. Sweet Deluxe earrings. Gucci watch.

Photography / Makeup / Styling / Modeling

Lary Rauh

An ode to Alexander McQueen, elegance and limits, editorial styled, designed, shot and edited by Lary Rauh
An ode to Alexander McQueen, elegance and limits, editorial styled, designed, shot and edited by Lary Rauh
An ode to Alexander McQueen, elegance and limits, editorial styled, designed, shot and edited by Lary Rauh

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