McQueen designed the 2005 collection It’s Only a Game around the idea of a chess match between America and Japan. Each ensemble corresponded to a particular chess piece.
The queen (bottom) wears a short, thigh-high dress, which is wide at the hips, a silhouette based on the eighteenth century. A kimono collar, obi sash, and an undershirt beautifully embroidered to look like tattooing are all drawn from Japanese culture. Next to her, the king (top) appears as an American football player, with shoulder pads and a helmet covered in Japanese tattooing.
In the runway show, the models moved as if they were pieces in a life-sized chess game, an idea inspired by a scene from Harry Potter. Taken as a whole, the collection revealed McQueen’s remarkable ability to look across cultures for inspiration.