A Designer Is Making Leather Goods Out Of Alexander McQueen’s Skin

A lot of art gives us the ability to challenge our notions of reality and temporarily walk a mile in another person’s shoes, but what if it gave us the ability to walk in someone else’s skin — literally? London-based designer Tina Gorjanc is playing with that very idea in her series titled “Pure Human,” where Gorjanc is designing bags out of Alexander McQueen’s skin.

Before you completely write her off as a dystopian mad scientist set on harvesting the bones and organs of unknowing victims for her inhumane experiments, the concept itself is pretty brilliant, as it hinges off ideals of sustainable and ethical leather production. For clarification, Gorjanc isn’t literally constructing a Frankenstein out of the skin of the deceased McQueen (that would be impossible since he passed away in 2010). The leather-like “skin” being used for the line of Pure Human bags is lab-grown from the DNA of a small sample of McQueen’s hair utilizing the scientific methods of stem cell biology.

In an interview with Paper magazine, the artist revealed her vision and inspiration for the project, including her apt observation that the concept of lab-grown leather and luxury goods is more ethical than animal leather: “It’s really interesting how we as a society still have a really taboo relationship with human bodily materials. The common reaction to human leather is disgust, while animal leather — which is still obtained under much more cruel conditions — is still regarded as a common, everyday material.”

The question on many people’s tongues is, of course, what would McQueen himself think of the project? Naturally, it’s impossible to truly parse (unless Gorjanc has connections with a skilled necromancer), but it seems like something up his alley considering his “Jack The Ripper Stalks His Victims” collection incorporated his own hair, which is where Gorjanc was able to access his DNA in the first place.

All of the pieces featured in the line fully take advantage of the skin-crawling material, incorporating synthetic tattoos and moles to truly amp up the the horrifying concept of wearing a jacket of McQueen’s skin or carrying your daily belongings in a skin bag.

When it comes to the concept of human DNA as both a medium for art and a material for consumerism, Gorjanc believes her series is just the beginning of an inevitable larger trend, as detailed in her Paper interview. “I believe that human genetic information will become a new luxury [item],” she said. “I also believe that such technologies will evolve to the point where alteration of genetic information won’t happen on a petri dish anymore, but within the human body itself.”

Of course, the most pressing question of all is: would you wear a jacket of someone’s skin?