This week sees London Fashion Week 2.0 – the spillover from the first, disrupted fashion week which coincides with Frieze Art Fair in the city. And perhaps ‘spillover’ is the wrong word – as this week’s schedule includes some of the biggest names in the calendar – with shows and events from Raf Simons, Off-White, and crucially, Alexander McQueen.
Yesterday, McQueen took to Greenwich’s Royal Naval College to showcase its SS23 collection under a big old bubble and the blazing Autumn sun. Diverging from the dark optimism and energy of Lee’s showcases, Burton’s McQueen brings things firmly into the light – blending new design codes with updated references from the house’s archives. We’re taking a look at 5 of the pieces we loved.
BUMSTERS ARE BACK
One of Alexander McQueen’s most famous designs are his silhouette-disrupting Bumsters – trousers worn so low on the waist that they elongate the torso and exposed erogenous areas of the body in Lee’s original iterations from the 90s. Integral to both Lee and Sarah Burton’s ethos at the brand is using and disrupting the female form as a vessel for empowerment – revealing and concealing, cutting up proportions and highlighting the body.
Going back into the archives, re-examining the originals and reintroducing them for this season in black wool, Burton’s intrepid manipulation of historical house codes for the 21st century woman was most evident here, and a warmly-welcomed addition to the brand’s SS23 collection.
KNUCKLE DUSTER CLUTCH
Semi early-on in the show, we saw a blue leather look which saw a dress (corseted upper and asymmetric draped skirt) and matching leather opera gloves in an affronting shade of cobalt blue. However – it was the metallic accessories that truly captured our attention – perhaps in part because they were glinting so strikingly in the sun. Along with a pair of wrap-around sunglasses, we saw a silver mini-handbag, worn as a knuckle duster. Here, McQueen’s signature blend of armour and beauty was laid out for all to see, in the form of a beautifully constructed handbag.
EYES ARE THE WINDOW TO THE DRESS (AND SUIT)
Perhaps the main motif of McQueen’s SS23 was the eyes – forcing a confrontation with your surroundings, and prompting questions about what you were actually looking at throughout the show. Already magnified by the transparent bubble in which the show took place, the eye motif spoke to a renewed emphasis on consciousness for Burton, as well as a stark symbol of humanity. We saw it splashed on butterfly dresses, suiting and bridal looks – blown up and exaggerated, or repeated into a monogram pattern.
Since Alexander McQueen’s conception as a graduate collection in the early 90s, everything has been about tailoring. Thanks to Lee’s pattern-cutting education in Savile Row, which was honed and developed at CSM, the brand was built on a foundation of immaculate tailoring – a sentiment that has carried through all of its collections.
SS23 was no different – suiting was clearly grounded in strong, structural lines, with each cut intentional and decisive. It was evident even in the way the garments moved as they passed on the catwalk – open-backed blazer trains swinging in a pendulum like manner or the subtle falls afforded by expertly-slashed sleeves.
TIERED LEATHER THIGH-HIGHS
A moment for the footwear, now. One of the most striking looks of the collection came in the form of a structural denim piece, but what really drew the eyes were the boots. Tiered, leather and thigh-high, these platform boots added a contrasting texture and another play on proportion and concealment. Leaving only a small slice of the upper thigh visible, the slashes up the boots worked to emphasise this, as well as elongate the leg line and suggest an almost insect-like aesthetic function in its movement.
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