Looking back to move forward: Alexander McQueen FW24

Looking back to move forward: Alexander McQueen FW24

by Ollie Cox
4 min

Seán McGirr just ended the anticipation surrounding his direction for Alexander McQueen as he presented the brand’s Fall/Winter 2024 collection at Paris Fashion Week. We saw the label head in a new direction, which in some parts felt familiar and, at other times, completely new. 

McGirr was appointed Creative Director in October last year, succeeding Sarah Burton, who spent 26 years at the House, a move which saw him leave his previous position as head of ready-to-wear at JW Anderson. Before this, he worked as a women’s designer at Dries Van Noten and has worked with Christophe Lemaire at Uniqlo’s Japan and Paris design offices.

Much like Lee Alexander McQueen, McGirr is a graduate of Central Saint Martins, securing a scholarship that saw him graduate from the Fashion Design Course in 2014. In the early 2010s, when the Irish designer was contemplating moving from Ireland to study in London, he found himself feeling inspired by McQueen’s work, particularly his final two collections: “Horn of Plenty” and “Plato’s Atlantis.” 

Two weeks before the show in Paris, we were treated to a video campaign, capturing models in an ancient pine forest donning skull masks, a key marker of the Lee McQueen era at the Maison, which saw destruction and beauty juxtaposed on the catwalk. Overlaying the moving images was a rebirth of the Alexander McQueen logo, which placed the “C” inside of the “Q.” This creative decision reflects McGirr’s understanding of the label’s history which has informed so much of his output. 

In the run-up to the FW24 collection, we saw the House collaborate with illustrator Ralph Steadman on a drawing of the McQueen Arrow Pin, featuring on show invites with its shark-like face and deliberately hashed playful design.

Take a look at our key moments from the show down below: 

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Location location location 

The location chosen was the Olympiades Food Market in Paris’ China Town, a setting far removed from the prestige of previous Paris Fashion Week proceedings. This industrial setting aligned with the McQueen tradition of showcasing in more leftfield locations, where a slightly more rugged backdrop added an edge to the proceedings, which was only aided by the rain which hammered down outside. The brand’s FW97 show, “It’s a Jungle Out There,” was held in London’s Borough Market, and today’s location felt it was chosen in a similar vein.

Looking back to look forward

To mark the beginning of his tenure at the McQueen House, McGirr subtly combed the archives for FW24. Out of the gate, models walked down the centre of a runway that was clearly marked by two concrete tracks, nodding to the road markings we saw in the Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 1995 collection, “The Birds.” 

The references didn’t stop there. Tailored jackets, which were featured across the men’s and womenswear offerings, were finished with protruding rounded shoulders, which mirrored the styles seen in the brand’s earlier presentations. When it came to the accessories, models wore metal T-bar jewellery, which again referenced earlier pieces. The style adorned choker-style necklaces, bracelets, rings and even the buckles of bags. These silver statements were a warm flash of nostalgia for Lee McQueen’s fifth collection.

McGirr set a manifesto for the Alexander McQueen man, one who was confident and outgoing. He understands the power of strong tailoring but is unafraid to play with tradition, seen in pairings of studded jackets and unbuttoned lime-green lapel-lapping leather shirts. This sentiment was further seen in detective-style leather trenches worn with an off-kilter trilby. Loose leather pants were worn with tight knitted tops cut beyond the waist in reflection of the “compressed silhouette” that remained dominant throughout.

The new McQueen woman 

This season was a move away from the more traditional femininity we saw at the McQueen House under Sarah Burton, who headed design when British Royalty wore the brand. Instead of the intricacies previously seen in mesh detailing and bedding, we saw a louder, more youthful spirit take to the runway.

Jeans featured Roman sandal-style ties around the calf, which felt like a nod to the ‘00s cool girl, for which McQueen was a mainstay label. Humongous turtleneck knits enveloped their wearer, folding on their necks like a tyre, which could be interpreted as another reference to the tyre tracks seen on tailored pieces in the SS95 collection, with the looks later followed by hooded iterations akin to those seen in Fall/Winter 1999.  Footwear ranged from stilettos to furry horse hoof-like boots, embodying the brand’s playful change in direction.

Rigid car-bonnet style metallic dresses arrived in green, blue, and black and intersected with silver shimmering evening gowns, which balanced youthfulness and feminine elegance. Despite this move away from the House’s previous notions of femininity, we didn’t get the gritty McQueen woman presented in Lee McQueen’s output. With this being McGirr’s debut, his Alexander McQueen woman will likely develop as he settles into his position. 

In three words 

Change. Of. Direction.

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