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Update: Last week, word spread that a recent design school graduate, Tina Gorjanc, planned to clone the late Alexander McQueen's DNA to create a line of accessories made of human skin. The reactions were (understandably) mixed. You'd at least think the designer's namesake label would have a say in this type of project, right? Well, that's not exactly how things went down.
While Gorjanc said in an interview that she got the go-ahead to pursue this project from Alexander McQueen's label, the fashion house has a different story: "Contrary to some press reports, the company wasn't approached about this project, nor have we ever endorsed it," a representative for Alexander McQueen told WWD.
Gorjanc implied that Kering, which owns Alexander McQueen "was aware of the project," per The New York Times. She said that various current and former associates of McQueen stopped by her presentation, and that some even commented that the late designer would've enjoyed this type of display.
While the project appears to have been mostly cleared of legal issues, the ethics are still coming into question. (Art critic Jonathan Jones weighed in on one side of the issue of using human leather in a column for The Guardian, while Gorjanc herself addressed the other in an interview with The Telegraph.) Approved, ethical, or not, one thing hasn't changed about this project: the ick factor.
We have reached out to Alexander McQueen, and will update our story when we hear back.
This story was originally published on July 12, 2016.
You will soon be able to wear Alexander McQueen. And no, that isn't a typo.
According to Oyster Magazine, a student of McQueen's alma mater Central Saint Martins named Tina Gorjanc has used the late designer's DNA to grow skin that is being turned into leather accessories. The fashion line is fittingly called Pure Human, which promises to be the "intersection of luxury and biology."
While this all may seem a bit creepy, the designer says she's actually using his DNA to make an important point about possession of one's body after he or she dies.
As the label's website explains, Pure Human is "a critical design project that aims to address shortcomings concerning the protection of biological information and move the debate forward using current legal structure."
Gorjanc was able to take McQueen's DNA from the labels of his 1992 collection Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims, his first, which were clear plastic pockets containing a single lock of his hair. She then harvests the cells so that they turn into skin tissue.
In an interview with Dezeen, Gorjanc said she was able to secure a patent for the line because there is no law that limits the "commercial usage of human genetic materials." Using someone's DNA is not considered stealing, but instead fair use.
But that doesn't mean Gorjanc believes there isn't an ethical dilemma with her project. "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," she said, "we can only imagine what big corporations with bigger funding are going to be capable of doing in the future."
As of now, Gorjanc has only been able to grow a small sample of skin, but she has gotten the owner of McQueen's first collection to donate more hair to the proposed project, which will include leather jackets, backpacks, and purses.
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