Tribute to Designer Alexander McQueen

By Vanessa Isaac

"When I'm dead and gone, people will know that the twenty-first century was started by Alexander McQueen."

Alexander McQueen


I wanted to create a Brazilian tribute to Alexander McQueen. I have been “obsessed” with him for a long time and I always loved his work. I understand that he was not in the fashion industry just to sell clothes. He was a true artist, an amazing craftsman who had something to say with every piece and every collection he created.

McQueen created a revolution in the fashion industry. I have been fascinated by both his work and his persona. The joy he derived from his work and his saddened heart deeply move me.

“ A Tribute to McQueen” is born but is a work in progress. For this first phase, I had the pleasure to work with the dancers and students from the Samba Dance Academy (an extension of the VI Dance Company) for the Hip Brazil Parade production. Paying tribute to the artist Alexander McQueen with Samba is, in a way, ironic. I decided to go for it because I believe that part of being an artist is taking risks. I am not here to copy him, but to flow with my own creativity.

This work blends Brazilian Rhythms (Samba, Samba Reggae, Baião, Maculele, Fusion). However, for the sample video below, we also added the minimalist piano of Michael Nyman. It’s said that McQueen loved piano and worked long evenings and nights to the music of Nyman, his favorite. I had two dreams with him during this process and I will share those dreams with all later in a blog.

I appreciate originality, and McQueen was simply my muse here:

Guiding me, showing me colors, geometry, precision.

Below is a short sample video from the work and a few photos. More to come!

Vanessa Isaac

Choreographer & Artistic Director


“There comes a time in your life when you focus solely on what you believe is right, regardless of what everybody else is doing.”

Alexander McQueen

Photo by Chris La Rosa

Photo by Chris La Rosa


“..... That’s what I am here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition”

Alexander McQueen 

The Process for Costumes. I wanted a tribute... not a copy.

McQueen at Paris Fall Collection 2008 headpiece detail becomes the starting point for a Samba Queen crown.

The High and Low Red (white and black) dress from his 2009 Fall Collection becomes, in my version, re-enterpretated in a black and red, super short in front as passista (samba dancer). The red goes inside the dress for me.

“Hands on your waist”.... I must have insisted to the dancers a thousand times during choreography rehearsals.

“There is no better designer than nature”

Alexander McQueen

A gorgeous Brazilian “Arara Vermelha” (red macaw) next to McQueen’s iconic colorful bird dress and our own Wings for the Hip Brazil 2019 -Samba Dance Academy production.

Wings desinged be Julie Ann Scalzo.

Samba Costumes by Brazilian Designer Adriano Moran

Dancer’s photo: Lillie by Chris La Rosa



Spontenous Live human installation: Dreaming of an Alexander McQueen’s Brazilian Garden

“I work with people I admire and respect.....” Alexander McQueen 
I would like to thank all who helped this production happen.

Marcus Santos, Composer and Arranger
Matt Wright, Drummers Director and Leader
Marcéu Lima, Bateria Teacher and Leader

SB Dance Arts/ Arts Mentorship Program and Alana Tillim
Brasil Arts Cafe (Daniel Yoshimi and Jennifer Yannella)
The Little Door - Santa Barbara (Fredo, Fatos and all the staff)
Dave's Dog
BrazilCarnivalShop (Maria Cristina Skowronski Flynn)
Hope School

Angel Sponsors
Starr Siegele and Larry Feinberg 
Suzanne Leary Faber 
Diana Emrani Wayne 
Vicki Klossner Ehlen 
Paul Christian Nguyen
Rose Gold
Rebecca Kleinmann
Rhonda Kesterson McBride

The following individuals for their work and the generous donation of their valueble time and super talents
Hannah Kistner
Julie Ann Scalzo
Chris La Rosa
Fab Insb
Gab Mac
George Papazacharioudakis
Roxana Bonderson
Amy Heinemann Fritz

All dancers who directed and taught extra practices

Special Out of town Guests
Gui Oliveira
Professor Chipa
Emi Cara

Directors of the Extenteded Dance Production for Hip Brazil Parade 2019
Cris Basimah - Bellydance Land Choregrapher/Director
Mayra Carena Chaves - Maculele Dance Choreographer
Jennifer Yannella & Contra Mestre Chin Daniel Yoshimi, Maculele and Capoeira Directors

Obviously, a huge gratitude to all my beautiful dancers for their hard work, beauty and talents. A really special thank you to the awesome Volunteers

Thank you for making a difference....